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BEA End of year Report 2003

JUNE, 2003

In a year of seemingly endless crises…everywhere...we have a lot to be proud of!

Members stayed united and strong through day after day of little progress as the state's financial picture worsened. From opening day through January we worked without a contract! BEA members 1100 strong participated in a rally in October which helped protect ALL Brockton employees' right to bargain over health insurance benefits and stopped the spread of the proposed pernicious cost shift strategy to other systems around the state, dead in its tracks. Finally, after 7 days of 1000 teachers on the streets for before school informational picketing in sub-freezing temperatures, a mediated agreement was reached after our second rally with 1000 teachers in attendance. ("The strength of each of us lies in the strength of all of us". Willard Abrahams).

Meanwhile the BEA sponsored a local community forum against Q-2 the Unz Referendum, as well as a video taped cable show that was aired here and in other communities, and a rally at City Hall. November brought our second "Spectacular"Potpourri Musical Review fund-raiser since 1982! The production featuring over 300 teachers, school personnel, retirees, administrators, school committee members, Brockton Area Multi Service members, half time BHS dancer alumni, and community members (wearing over 400 costumes) nearly sold out three performances and raised $20,000 for our BEA Campership Fund , and a scholarship jointly sponsored by BEA, Brockton Public Schools, and Brockton Area Multiservice. BEA treasure John Kelleher suffered a heart attack in November and is now recovering at home. John extends his thanks for your cards and expressions of support.

Unfortunately, November also brought a new governor whose first actions were to attack public education programs, attempt to eliminate teachers' rights to belong to a union and bargain wages, hours and working conditions, and eliminate our retirement system!

On a more positive note, this year's new teachers brought us to the nearly perfect mix of 700 veteran teachers working with 700 teachers in their first seven years in Brockton Public Schools! The BEA/MTA sponsored a luncheon for new teachers at the August orientation. Our new BEA Web-Site is up and running thanks to our webmaster Kathy Ettinger. (Please bookmark it on your computer.) Our mentoring program was in its third year of existence, and mentors met their proteges before school opened.

The Teacher Next Door $8,000,000 Home Buying Program for Brockton Teachers finished its third year with a total over of 17 teachers purchasing homes through the program.

Members received a 3% (3.5% step 1) salary increase this year. Approximately 40 teachers retired this year, many enjoying the benefit of the Early Retirement Incentive Bill we previously fought so hard for.

A BEA forum on the impact of budget cuts to education was attended by over 350 community members and our entire legislative delegation; Reps Gerri Creedon, Christine Canavan, Tom Kennedy, and Senator Bob Creedon.

Your President also testified against irrational, abusive MCAS issues on WBET Radio, Brockton, WBSM, Radio, New Bedford and local cable. He also presented written testimony at a State House hearing (Bridgewater) regarding increasing the foundation budget, using Brockton figures.

This year's membership services events included a New Teacher Luncheon during orientation, our ever popular BEA golf tournament, and a BEA recognition event for our retiring teachers at the Arnone School..

Contract enforcement continued through the filing of 8 grievances, and the settlement of an Unfair Labor Practice charge on the illegal change in our health insurance by PR&R (Grievance Committee) Chair, Tim Sullivan. Please expect refund checks from the City settlement for any over payments in August. (Partial released time for Tim seems to be paying off...two years ago at this time we were at 19 grievances). Quick action by building reps avoided many possible grievances by resolving issues at the building level.

The Representative Council of 63 members, elected by building, did an outstanding job of representing the membership with the TWO-WAY communication that is so important to all of us.

We elected a new BEA: 2nd VP, Susan Anderson, for a one year term and 1st VP Tim Sullivan was elected to a two year term on the MTA Executive Committee.

In Addition, 23 BEA members attended the MTA Leadership Training Conference at Williams College last summer. Twenty-nine elected delegates, Tim Sullivan our MTA Executive Committee member and your president/MTA Board member represented us at the MTA House of Delegates Meeting in Boston. (Tim and your president were a part of the new, widely celebrated & ever popular MTA Chorus). Eleven members will represent us at the NEA Representative Assembly in New Orleans this summer. It is a great pleasure to announce that three of our delegates were elected regionally.

With an eye toward the future of our profession, the $4,000 BEA scholarship is awarded yearly to a talented BHS graduate who intends to enter the teaching profession or a related field. Two previous recipients are now our classroom colleagues! Two BEA Potpourri Scholarships of $1000, and three BEA/PCEA $900 scholarships will also be awarded to BHS graduates.

In terms of helping our members with the cost of quality professional development, the BEA Article XXXVI Committee expended nearly all of the negotiated $20,000 amount to defray the cost of out-of-state travel for 26 BEA members who applied this year (up from 22, last year).

As the "days dwindle down to a precious few" it's an important time for us to focus on the many POSITIVE things that "didn't just happen" this year: we settled a fair contract, went from a projected 400 Brockton RIF notices to less than 10, system wide, in two months and …taught children well!

Please know that it also took your support and involvement to accomplish everything that was positive this year, (like our settlement with the City for increasing our health Insurance co-pays without bargaining, or saving jobs through increasing our funding by lobbying the legislature). Whether you made a call to a senator or representative, defended your system at a social event, or just kept informed by occasionally looking something up in your contract, or reading the endless updates in your mailbox, it all doesn't happen without you.

Priority one for next year should be to stop the educational havoc created by the last three governors' agendas and appointments. The solutions to the problems that we face as professionals lie in our continued unity as an Association in pursuing them. It's O.K. to feel good about being a Brockton teacher and member of the BEA. Have a wonderful, restful summer. We've earned it!

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