GPEA Newsletter

December 2014 Volume 6 Issue 1

President's Corner

The holiday season is upon us! For education professionals that means a whole lot more than just putting up tree decorations, listening to soft music and drinking egg nog around a cozy fire (I see stuff like that in commercials.) For us, it means weeks of practice come to fruition at our instrumental and vocal concerts, room moms are in and out getting ready for classroom holiday parties, various adjusted schedules are juggled by our classroom and traveling teachers, all of us are managing excited (some might say "overstimulated") kids, tweens and teens. Yes, it's the holiday season and we are almost at the end of the last week before break.

If you are a BOE watcher - you have been seeing the GPEA on display every Monday night over the last several months. Much of what will be in the spotlight in this newsletter has already been shared with the Board of Education and Administration. It is critically important that we keep the great work we do here in the public eye and it is my pleasure to share that as often as possible. After the difficult Fall election season and the negative press on education in general, I am happy to end 2014 with the information contained in this newsletter. I'm hoping 2015 will see some of our GPEA members joining me at the microphone to give the BOE a peek into the wonderful work we do with our young people every day.

Since I think I hear that cozy fire, soft music and an egg nog (or two) calling you it's time to keep this short and wrap up my comments, but please read the rest of this newsletter for good news about the GPEA!

The Mikesell family wishes you and yours a happy and restful holiday break!

Laura Mikesell, M.Ed.

President - Grosse Pointe Education Association


Of the top 100 ranked school districts in Michigan, Grosse Pointe teachers received an A+ Grade and ranked a very impressive #2 in Standing. Click to see the full report on our GPPSS website!


The Grosse Pointe North Freshman Assist Program achieves National Recognition! Click to read further!

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Poupard Staff PB & J Day!

Poupard has done it again! This month was PB&J Help Your Neighbor Day. Poupard staff and parents donated enough food to make over 200 lunches. Younger students were paired with older students and together they made a sandwich, then added a juice box along with a snack for a perfect school lunch. In addition, students collaborated to write a note and decorate the bag. This year, Poupard packed the lunches into a small backpack that included a poncho. “Feed the Need," (an organization in Roseville) along with “International Brown Bag Lunches of Love," worked in conjunction to distribute the lunches to those in need.

A HUGE thank you to GPEA members Cheryl Gawel, Lori Woznicki and Julie Mayo along with the rest of the Poupard staff who organized this December PBIS reward activity.


Legislative Update

After thousands of emails and hundreds of phone calls by MEA and AFT members, the lame duck session of the Michigan Legislature has decided to send the transportation funding plan to a ballot vote in May, 2015. The long and short of the plan contains the following: Increase the state sales tax to 7%, generate $1.2 billion in new transportation funding, generate an additional $300 million for school funding (about $200 per pupil) and bring back the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families. Additionally, the ballot question would amend the Michigan Constitution to dedicate the School Aid Fund as strictly for Pre-K through community college education. This would make it more difficult for future legislatures to divert school funding for other uses.

Our voices were heard - education attacks are stopped for now. We'll see what happens in January. Thank you to everyone who reached out to their legislator.

Survey Says?

The Grosse Pointe Fall 2014 Community Survey clearly places the GPEA on top!

"When asked what is the single biggest strength of our SCHOOL, there were 278 answers written in, and these were the most common responses in order: teachers (133), parents (36), principal/administrators (32), staff (28), community (20), quality of education (17), electives and specialty programs (15), small class/school size (8). When asked what is the single biggest strength of our DISTRICT, the 257 answers were similar with most common responses being teachers and staff (90), community support (42), involved parents/families (39), a commitment to high expectations (17), administration (13), reputation for excellence (12), and residency requirements/neighborhood schools (10).

For the full survey - click here:

FAQ from the Grosse Pointe Education Association

What does the contract language say about requiring an agenda before meetings?

The language in the contract is vague regarding actual meeting "agendas." At the very least, you must have the announced "topic" or "purpose" at least 48 hours in advance but the contract does not speak to requiring a specific "agenda." Additionally, the language indicates that department chairs at the secondary level should be working in conjunction with principals when it comes to developing any type of agenda. If individual department chairs are unsure whether they should develop an agenda, direction from their administrative liaison is appropriate here. The bottom line: if what you are doing is currently working - go with it. Do we need to tighten up this language in the next contract to be more agenda driven? Let your GPEA leadership know. Exact contract language below:

Paragraph (270) that "Meetings should have an announced topic or purpose which is made available to their staff at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance. If the meeting is deemed unnecessary by administration, teachers will observe their regular dismissal time set for the regular school day. The District reserves the right to call emergency meetings to address urgent or unforeseen events.

Furthermore, under "Job Functions and Responsibilities of Chairpersons" Paragraph (464i) Chairing departmental meetings, including preparation of agenda in consultation with building administrator and Departments of Curriculum, Assessment, Instruction and Technology; checking attendance of such meetings, reporting minutes of same, and related duties and service as an active member on curriculum review committees in their area.

Is there any new information on our sick leave policy? Many of us are worried about that Community Roll Bank ending this year.

Your GPEA Bargaining Team of Chris Geerer, Kim Maddalena, Mike Rennell, Greg Johnson and Laura Mikesell met formally last week to begin discussion on our current sick leave policy. Collectively, we have already scheduled a formal fact-finding meeting with the HR negotiating team in early January. Be aware that these initial meetings are fact-finding only (look at the data, find trends, what savings have we had, illness days currently being used, etc.) and we anticipate that it will take at least until the end of February to gather data, write a proposal, and obtain our legal opinion. It is important to acknowledge that we are still at the mercy of public school funds being cut. All that being said, your GPEA leadership is pursuing some significant discussion and, although we can't promise anything, we are hoping for positive change on behalf of our GPEA sometime in 2015.

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Happy Holidays from your GPEA Executive Board!

Mike Rennell, Kim Maddalena, Judy Ignagni, Chris Geerer, Jackie Shelson, Rob McIntyre, Barry Mulso, Cheryl Gawel, Deb Raab, Greg Johnson, Peter Palen & Laura Mikesell