Put D15 Kids First: Come Back to Work, ESPA

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Put D15 Kids First: Come Back to Work ESPA; Union Leaders: PLEASE Bargain with BOE in Good Faith

We, as parents of children who attend or have attended District 15 schools, as community members, are asking members of the Employment Support Personnel Association (ESPA) to come back to work. There are children who have disabilities who need your one-on-one services, but all of the D15 children rely on you for the support and services you were hired to provide.

To the ESPA Union leadership, we implore you to do the job you are paid to do, which is to negotiate with the District 15 Board of Education in good faith, and to have a goal to come to an amicable agreement that is fairly negotiated for both sides; the stakeholders of D15, as well as the members of your union. We believe this has not happened thus far from ESPA union leadership through publicly provided documentation. We need a fair and balanced negotiation with a true effort to find a resolution.

In a recent election (November of 2016), an overwhelming majority of D15 residents voted against a $130 million referendum, and several months later, an almost entirely new School Board was elected by this community to better represent the financial interests of all stakeholders in the D15 community. In addition to parents of D15 school children, the BOE is responsible to uphold their campaign promises to watch our tax dollars, and we expect them to ensure fiscal accountability as an overarching goal on an ongoing basis. There is not a limitless bank account to give in to all desires of the union, and we must all remember this.

Speaking of the new board members, there have been many rumors that they are using the ESPA contract as an opportunity to right past wrongs.  But where does ESPA get that impression?  In the very first meeting with the newly elected BOE, ESPA requested a federal mediator—they didn’t even give the new BOE a chance.  If they had tried to work with the new BOE and explained where their requests were coming from, we might be in a different, better, far less contentious place.  And as for the rumors that the newly elected BOE members have a vendetta against the ESPA, that is simply childish.  Despite it being well known that the ESPA financially supported the prior incumbents’ campaign with some nasty rhetoric about the current Board Members, it’s quite obvious that was the decision of ESPA leadership, as opposed to a desire or view shared by over 400 ESPA members.

We as parents understand the value that the ESPA members bring to our district, please know this. ESPA members, we see the impact you have on our kids’ lives—from assistance in our students’ classrooms with reading and math, to monitoring our lunchrooms and playgrounds, to handling medical care, personal care, feeding and many other necessities for our neediest students.  We are so grateful to you for taking such great care of our children while they are in your care.

We hear that you care about our children, and we sincerely ask you to show this by leaving the picket lines and being with our children at school. Many of us parents are, frankly, afraid of retribution against us, and our children, for not agreeing with your union leaders wants – there must be a unified agreement that gives concessions to both sides.  Please end this strike while your paid and elected leadership continues to negotiate fairly on your behalf.

To the union leadership, we are appalled at how you have attempted to hold us and our children hostage.  You can’t just “stomp your feet” and demand to be given all you ask for while telling us you care about our kids from your picket lines on the sidewalk.  Shame on you for trying to hold our community hostage. We are stronger than you may think, and will not ignore or forget your words and actions.

ESPA members please don’t blindly trust your leadership.  We believe you’re being misled as part of a bigger agenda.  Reach out to your District Administrators and your elected School Board officials to share your concerns and ideas. ESPA-if you truly care for our children, as we believe you do, stop this insanity and come back to our kids. They need you, we need you, and our schools need you.  Please come back and work collectively with the Administration and the BOE.

Sincerely,

District 15 Community Members



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