Is the Gilbert Education Association gone?

“Union” is a word that most GEA leadership prefers to avoid, and it appears to be a concept that GPS school board member Daryl Colvin along with board President Staci Burk and board Clerk Julie Smith feel GPS are better off without.

In a 3-2 vote on a substitute motion (board members Lily Tram and Jill Humphreys dissenting) the GPS school board has essentially nullified the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and moved the bulk of the policies and procedures referenced therein to official district policy.  Mr. Colvin explained that GPS district policies already referring to the MOU for additional reference can now reference official district policy and apply to 100% of the staff rather than just 33% of staff that are GEA members.  In addition, the first two articles of the MOU which contain language that establishes the nature of the association have been removed from the new policy.  The question now becomes, what of the GEA?

Just prior to this unprecedented action, Mr. Jeff Smith spoke during public comment giving his opinion against the measure to renew the MOU and citing references of high-ranking national teacher’s union representatives painting unions in unfavorable light. 

Ms. Burk suggested that current committees involving the MOU such as the IBBT (Interest-Based Bargaining Team) be transitioned as a sub-committee to the policy committee to finalize language and iron out any wrinkles going forward.

Board member Mrs. Jill Humphreys went to extra lengths after the vote was taken to emotinally express her reason for dissention by sharing concerns that moving so much into policy so quickly was ill advised and felt that such actions diminished the voice of the teachers whom were represented by the GEA.  Board President Ms. Staci Burk explained that in her opinion the action actually strengthened the teacher’s representative position by including them in the policy committee, an area such representation has not been given before in such a way as this.

As the dust settles, future meetings will be of great interest to many concerned individuals as this particular shift in policy and direction continues to take shape.  When pressed by board member Lily Tram if the intention was to do away with the GEA, President Burk indicated that the school board doesn’t have the authority to disband the GEA.  Yet by all appearances, it would appear that while the GEA is still free to remain organized, the logistics of their organization will certainly need to be reviewed internally and most if not all ties to GPS appear to be severed pending further policy revision.

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