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ACPS reaches ‘milestone moment’ with passage of collective bargaining resolution

School buses preparing at Alexandria City High School (staff photo by James Cullum)

The Alexandria School Board unanimously approved a collective bargaining resolution Thursday night, setting the ground rules for how the school system will negotiate with staff on wages and benefits.

Dawn Lucas, president of the Education Association of Alexandria, was pleased with a number of changes that she recommended the Board make to the proposed resolution.

“I feel like we’re in a good place,” Lucas said. “Our teachers and staff are going to have seats at the table, and their voices will be heard.”

School Board Chair Michelle Rief said that Alexandria City Public Schools wants to come to a collective bargaining agreement by the end of 2024.

“I think it’s a milestone moment for our school division,” Rief said. ” I want to thank the Education Association of Alexandria, our ACPS staff and community members who were engaged in this process. We heard your feedback, we incorporated your feedback and I’m very pleased with where we landed with this final collective bargaining resolution.”

The school system is currently experiencing a staffing crisis. Last October, EAA sent the Board an employee certification on behalf of licensed teachers. That submission gave the Board 120 days to adopt a framework for the resolution.

Among the changes to the draft document was Board Member Abdel Elnoubi’s recommendation to remove a 30% voting threshold for employees to establish two unions for bargaining. Those units can now be chosen with a simple majority of staff.

Elnoubi said that the Board’s work on the resolution was the best experience he’s had throughout his single term.

“I got to roll my sleeves and do work and get involved in the work from the beginning and be part of the process,” Elnoubi said. “I don’t think as board members we get to do that a lot, so that was a really good experience, to feel that we are actually solving problems and working hands-on.”

The Board also increased the number of yet-to-be-determined bargaining topics from four to six, and left the door open for more topics if voted on by the bargaining units. Additionally, after the first agreement expires after three years, collective bargaining to administrative staff.

ACPS middle school teacher David Paladin Fernandez was also pleased with the resolution. Fernandez is running against Lucas for EAA president in a union election this summer.

“I do appreciate the immense amount of work that the Board has done to improve this document from where it was last week when it was first released,” Fernandez said. “The fact that they struck out the voter participation threshold is a tremendous win for not just employees here in ACPS, but for Democracy itself.”

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