Mideastern Region PSEA

January Newsletter

Welcome to the Mideastern Region newsletter! Each month we will be featuring information to help our members stay informed, get involved, and advocate for our profession.

Our region represents the 15,168 public school educators across the 35 school districts and two intermediate units of Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Your hard work and the power of collective bargaining help to bring an exceptional education to the 195,426 students in our buildings.

Focus on Your School Board

Student learning conditions? School board.

COVID reopening plans? School board.

Your contract? School board.

Later this spring, it will be time for our locals to decide if they are going to weigh in with a PSEA-PACE recommendation in school board races. We are fully prepared to help our leaders navigate that process, but something very important needs to happen first: we need to work to get pro-public education candidates on the ballot. It's really hard for your local to attempt a recommendation when everyone on the ballot is a jerk.

We know that there are other groups out there with their own agendas trying to win school board seats in the fall municipal election.

So, let's make sure that our locals and voters don't have a choice between a jerk and a jerk - let's get quality pro-public education candidates on the ballot - and SOON.

Think of community members where you work and/or live who might be a champion for public schools. Encourage those individuals to run for school board! Asking just one person to run could be the start of great successes for your students and colleagues. This is a great resource for information on how to become a candidate. I'm also happy to help answer questions and point members in the right direction for assistance and resources on this topic.

Instead of bemoaning the actions of an unfriendly board, let's all work hard to get friends on the ballot and then work even harder to make sure they are the successful candidates.

Bill Senavaitis, Central Bucks EA

Mideastern Region President

Jane H. Kesson School Concert Program

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Jane H. Kesson School Concert Program is the ideal way to expose students in grades 3–5 to the exciting and powerful art form of orchestral music. School Concerts familiarize students with the environment and traditions of a concert hall, equip them with fundamental musical vocabulary, and cultivate a lifelong interest in classical music.

The Philadelphia Orchestra will offer a Virtual School Concert experience with unique distance learning materials. This virtual experience will be in place of our in-person school concerts that usually take place in the spring, to ensure students and teachers can experience the orchestra from the safety of their homes and/or classrooms during these uncertain times. To receive access to the preparation materials and other updates, please visit this website.

Importance of Kindergarten: Your help needed!

School districts – not only here in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, but around the country – saw kindergarten enrollment take a nosedive in the fall of 2020.

With kindergarten enrollment season for 2021-22 upon us, we want to make sure that local families know that Kindergarten is both important and of excellent quality here in the Mideastern Region, and we’d love to have your help – whether you are a Kindergarten teacher, elementary teacher, or a parent or teacher who’s seen the positive effects of Kindergarten firsthand.

We plan on creating a series of posts on our PSEA-CAPS social media platforms highlighting Kindergarten during this critical enrollment period for our public schools.

Help us make this message authentic by sharing a story, a picture, or a video on why high-quality, public Kindergarten is so important to our young learners and their families. Please email your thoughts directly to Danielle Gross: dgross@shelly-lyons.com

Thanks for your consideration!

Teach Happier

This weekly podcast from Central Bucks EA member Suzanne Dailey is designed to help anyone working in schools incorporate small shifts. These small shifts, practiced over time, will make a positive impact in school AND at home. In these 5 minute episodes, Suzanne will share a little story and invite listeners to incorporate a small shift in their upcoming week. At the end of the week, listeners can reflect to see if it increased their happiness at home or at school. Check out the podcast and Facebook page!

Member-Advocate Network

Are you willing to advocate for fellow PSEA members by writing to your school board or speaking during public comment? This survey is for you! Your information will be shared with the presidents of the locals where you live. Thanks for your consideration!

Pre-retirement Workshops

As your retirement nears, it's time to consider which PSERS monthly income options to choose as well as how to handle your contributions and interest account. Our workshops are designed for members who are within five years of their retirement date. The final two workshops for this school year are on February 11 and March 2. To register for upcoming workshops, please click here. Two reminders:

  • Please be sure to click "check out" at the end to finalize your registration.
  • A link to join the Zoom will be emailed to participants on the day of the event.

Thinking of Recommending a School Board Candidate?

Presented by PSEA Government Relations staff, this event on Wednesday, March 3 at 5pm will provide information about the candidate recommendation process, including questionnaires and interviews. Attendees will also learn about candidate monetary assistance from PSEA-PACE, communications assistance from PSEA, and local volunteers and Do’s and Don’ts. Click here to register.

FREE for Educators

Headspace is available for FREE for all school personell - all you need is for someone (usually the HR department) to register your entity. After that, everyone can use their school email to log in and access a variety of mental wellness resources on a desktop or mobile device.

Minority Affairs Committee Meeting

Mideastern Region members are invited to a Minority Affairs meeting on Wednesday, February 10 at 5pm via Zoom. At this event, attendees will have an opportunity to meet our chairperson, Darlene Edwards, share MAC activities in their local, and review a proposed “Catalyst for Change” a framework to help our locals recruit and retain educators of color. Click here to register.

Legal Alert and Attestation Form Non-Compliance

Please review the two documents below, distributed to PSEA staff and local presidents earlier this month.

  • Legal Alert - outlines the school district attestation process as well as important points on the documentation of non-compliance

  • Non-Compliance Reporting - PSEA has worked hard to standardize the reporting of school entity non-compliance, based on PDE’s recent guidance and the attestation process. Once submitted to PSEA, we will review information and forward it to PDE

PSEA is aware of school entities that are inappropriately accelerating their reopening timetables because of a loophole in state guidance. We also know of schools that are resetting their COVID-19 case counts without closing school buildings at all. This is unacceptable. PSEA is working on these and many other issues with PDE to help make sure that our students and members are safe.

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Yard Signs

Coming soon to a lawn near you - free CAPS yards signs! We have many, many signs available for our members and their neighbors to display in support of our public schools. Contact Bill Senavaitis if you would like some!

Retirement Checklist

If you are retiring soon (within the next year) here are steps that you should be taking with your district and PSERS:

  1. Carefully read your contract for information about when you need to provide notification to your district.
  2. Request a retirement estimate from PSERS. You can ask for up to two different scenarios (ex: retirement date of June 2021 or December 2021.)

  3. Call the Southeast Regional PSERS office in Warminster (215.443.3495) to schedule Exit Counseling.

You can also sign up to be a PSEA-Retired member if you are in year one or year 35 of your career - or anywhere in between! The earlier you sign up, the more money you will save on dues. You can enroll in PSEA-Retired FOR LIFE with a one-time dues payment of $774, or break that into four payments of $193.50 over a two-year period. This is a great way to continue to stay involved and engaged with the work of the association as well as continued use of our member benefits. For more information and to enroll, visit this website.

PSEA Hardship Grants

The PSEA Education Foundation provides financial assistance to PSEA members who are experiencing dire hardship through illness, disability, and/or financial need. Applications are submitted to the PSEA Retirement & Welfare Committee, which reviews the applications and makes recommendations to the PSEA Education Foundation. For more information or to apply, please scroll to the bottom of this page

Will Nights

Will Nights are back! If you are interested in having a Will, Advanced Health Care Directive, and Durable Power of Attorney, consider calling 215.568.9804 to make a virtual appointment for one of the available dates from January through March. Please take a look at this document for more information.

Enter to Win!

CaliforniaCasualty is giving away $2,500 cash to multiple members throughout the year. Enter today for your chance to win the $2,500 Jackpot!

Scholarship for Montgomery County Future Educators

The retired educators in Montgomery County (PSEA-Retired) annually offer scholarships to College Junior or Seniors who have graduated from a Montgomery County public high school and who plan to earn an education degree for teaching. The application is linked below. Be sure to submit it by the deadline of June 15, 2021. Please share the document with anyone who may be interested in applying!

Embracing the Black Family in Schools

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (WHIEEAA) housed at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) invites you to attend the upcoming virtual roundtable titled Embracing the Black Family in Schools: Cultural Competency, Teacher Diversity and Family Engagement on Tuesday, February 2, 2021. The event is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. EST. Click here to register!

Virtual Social and Racial Justice Opportunities

Our region's membership in the Delaware Valley Consortium for Excellence & Equity allows us the opportunity for members to participate in special events and activities that are focused on eliminating achievement and attainment disparities defined by race/ethnicity, economics, gender, or (dis)ability. Please use this link to check out their line up, and email me (bsenavaitis@psea.org) if you are interested in participating in one or more opportunities.

Save Money

We spend a lot of time talking about how much our members earn - and maybe not enough time talking about how those earnings are spent. PSEA Member Benefits can save you and your family money on everything from insurance to hearing aids. Spend some time browsing our website today!

Stay Connected

There are multiple ways to stay connected to our organization. If you're not yet a member of our private Facebook group, please consider joining (be sure to answer the question and let us know the name of your local). Our website it also a great place to get information about critical alerts and upcoming events.

Previous Editions

Did you miss our newsletter last month? Was there something from the last year that you'd like to reread? Look no further!

December 2019

January 2020

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

September 2020

October 2020

November 2020

December 2020

Mideastern Region PSEA

Bill Senavaitis, President (bsenavaitis@psea.org)

Alan Malachowski, President- Elect (amalachowski@psea.org)

Debbie Lee, Vice President (dlee@psea.org)

Sue Brown, Treasurer

Deleah Archer, Secretary

Theresa Prato, PACE Director

Kevin Deely, NEA Director (kdeely@psea.org)