School board approves agreement with APT to expand hours at middle and high schools this spring

The Board of Education unanimously approved an addendum to the in-person/hybrid MOU between PUSD and APT that expands in-person learning time for middle and high schools through the end of the 2020-2021 school year at a special meeting Wednesday night.

The agreement comes after months of often contentious debate in the school community over how and when to reopen schools. Rapidly improving public health conditions coupled with vaccination availability earlier this year increased pressure on the district to update earlier agreements with teachers to allow for more on-campus instructional time. 

The “checkerboard” schedule will begin on April 26 for PMS, PHS, and MHS. The middle school will start a “step-in” transition to more in-person hours the week of April 19 in order to give teachers extra time to practice concurrent teaching.

Monday remains a distance learning day for all students, and students will remain in their A and B cohorts, which will flip between morning and afternoon schedules. As in previous agreements, no students will remain on campus for lunch and distance learners will continue to be supported. 

The agreement also includes a $1,000 stipend for all APT members. Teachers will also be responsible for checking the daily health screeners for their classes. 

“I want to thank APT, their negotiating team specifically,” said Superintendent Randy Booker. “I’m grateful for their work and partnership … and for the district’s team.”

Negotiating for PUSD were: Superintendent Randall Booker, Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wozniak, PHS Principal Adam Littlefield, PMS Principal Ryan Fletcher, and Havens Principal Anne Dolid. On the APT side were: PMS teacher and APT President Gabriel Kessler, PHS teacher Elise Marks, Beach fifth grade teacher Ben Spencer, PMS math teacher Kate Waldron, and MHS teacher Katie Terhar. APT members cast their votes for the plan from Monday through Wednesday this week.

“I want to share my gratitude for the bargaining team, for coming up with an agreement that our members are excited about. We’re grateful that we could get this done,” said APT President Kessler. 

Booker said that in his 17 years in Piedmont, they’ve never had a tentative agreement fail. “We lean on longtime relationships — we’re not sitting across from strangers,” Booker said, noting the toll that failed agreements can take on a school community. “Which isn’t to say that we don’t have disagreements.”

“I know there will be questions around elementary,” said Booker. “We are going to continue to negotiate — but we do not have an agreement yet.”

“I was so happy when this passed,” said School Board President Cory Smegal. “This was very important to all of us — to students, to parents, to the teachers. I’m so appreciative.”

“I know our families feel spent and are angry — fueled by a deep concern for their children. None of us have reserves left,” said Trustee Megan Pillsbury. “There’s a desire from all stakeholders to take some time to heal and come together as a district.”

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