I encourage everyone to take a look at the summer conference program, August 3-7 in Williamstown, MA. This is a conference put on every year, with different "tracks" for various member needs. The General Conference has over 100 teacher and para PD opportunities and workshops like " Using Music in your subject area" and "Research projects that strengthen learning." There is also a popular EdCamp-style "unconference" and "EdTalks" -- which is our own version of TED talks!
In addition, there are training tracks for Union "Emerging Leaders," "New Members" (first 5 years), and "Grassroots Political." These training tracks are grant funded by the MTA, and need to be signed up for ASAP. For the General Conference the fee is $50 per day, $40 per day for the campus meal plan (it is very good!), and $130 per night for a dorm room. In the past WEA members have elected to not stay in the dorm, and instead stay at a nearby hotel called The Orchards.
Let me know if you are interested or have any questions. As of today there are about 7 members who will be there. You must register and pay yourself, but the WEA has funds available to reimburse a portion of your tuition, room, and board, depending on how many members attend. Last year the members who went were fully funded, but there is no guarantee, and it depends on how many apply for funding. You can expect to get at least half of the cost subsidized by WEA. Williamstown is a beautiful spot in the Berkshires, so in the past members have planned family vacations during the conference.
Here is the link to the Orchards http://www.orchardshotel.com/ and here is the link to the Conferencehttp://www.cvent.com/events/2014-mta-summer-conference/event-summary-d4a87ef8b323469fa1442b9a03b9b19f.aspx
Conference Guides are available at the WEA office, or if you'd like I can interoffice mail one to you. The meal plan cost increases slightly after June 20, as does the dorm fee, so keep this deadline in mind.
Please take a moment to consider this opportunity!
Once again the town is declaring that they have insufficient revenue to support education for next year. This pattern is similar to past years (see funding trends: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-OyrwYZnUPHRWFoaVdzMnpLc1E/edit ). While we are meeting net school spending for FY15, the mayor's proposed budget falls short of a level service budget by roughly $500K. This shortfall, combined with $365K in state mandates that the district must meet next year (ESL teachers, Math teachers, and SEI training) has resulted in an $865,000 deficit.
Weymouth is one of the most underfunded districts in the state. This year we ranked 306 out of 323 school districts in Massachusetts in our net school spending https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-OyrwYZnUPHNkY0U3ZqLXB0T2c/edit (we are on page 7). As educators we have felt these cuts for the past few years, both in our classrooms and in our wallets. Continuing in this paradigm of funding education will hurt our students, the community, and our livelihood.
Over the years, there has been a growing community effort to change this negligent pattern of funding. This effort has resulted in one time funding allotments to the school system. These funds come from the town's free cash and are not available until after the start of school when the chapter 70 money comes in from the state. While this funding has allowed the district to purchase one time items, it does not allow for new classrooms to be created or personnel to be hired.
We are asking you to join in a community movement to advocate that the schools be funded appropriately. There have been several town councilors who have proposed viable options to make this happen. On Wednesday night, June 11th, the school committee will present to the town council budget committee the cuts the district is proposing to make up the $865K deficit. The meeting is at 6:00 in the Town Hall. We are looking for strong WEA representation at this meeting. There will not be public comment, but a physical presence will send a powerful message that this budget is not acceptable.
Within the next two weeks there will be a town meeting for the town council to vote on the mayor's budget. We need to have strong representation at this meeting as well. More information regarding the second meeting will follow
We need to work with community leaders now, to garner the appropriate level of support from the town for our students, the schools, and our members.
Mary Lou Buell, President
Ydana Chella, President-Elect
Maggie Murphy, Vice President-Elect
President - WEA