President's Page

El Centro Secondary Teachers Association

December 13, 2012

A Letter From Your President

The past three months have flown by, busied by hour after hour of precinct walking, phone banking, letter writing, and campaigning;  and a few days off from work—and longer off the computer with carpal tunnel surgery. Thankfully, that work has paid off with the defeat of Prop 32, the passage of Prop 30, and the addition of a new Board member. Thank you to those who participated in The Event at the Mall on November 3rd—especially those who managed to avoid getting arrested. You gotta learn to “hit and run” sometimes….

The October and November Board meetings were lowlighted by the Superintendent’s attempted addition of proposed changed (additions really) to Board Policy regarding teachers. As I explained at the previous meetings, Dr. Budde proposed policies that forbid us from owning a gun (without mentioning that this only applies on campus), “using profane, obscene, or abusive language against…community members” (but it doesn’t say when or where or what constitutes ‘abusive language’),  “wearing inappropriate attire” (but without explaining what ‘appropriate’ is), “using district equipment or communication devices for personal purposes” (so that lunchtime phone call to IID or the babysitter can get me fired?)…well, you get the idea.  We were so appalled by this, we pointed out the lunacy of this power grab and asked for the Board to direct Dr. Budde to talk with us regarding this. As the president of the Board, Mr. Hindman did this—sort of.  So it didn’t happen. Dr. Budde later informed me that he didn’t need to negotiate this with the union. When it appeared on the November agenda without any changes, ECSTA lodged its complaint and requested that the issue be tabled until the new Board was seated in December. The Board averred and no action was taken.

 At the December meeting, I pointed out the crux of the matter, recalled from a conversation with Dr. Budde about a year ago:  I had sought Dr. Budde’s help with information for my Master’s. As always, he was generous with is time and information (and, as always, I am thankful for it). I asked why I couldn’t find information in Board Policy; he informed me that it was cited in Ed Code and that a few years ago, under his guidance, the Board deleted from Board Policy items that were redundant—items already covered by Ed Code. Which begs the question that I asked at this past Tuesday’s meeting: What gives now? If what he said then still is the case now, if Board Policy doesn’t need to repeat Ed Code,why were these redundant policies now at issue?  It’s a power grab, plain and simple. And it wasn’t on the agenda in December. Yes, we will be diligent in keeping an eye on this matter. With the events of March in Madison, Wisconsin, still fresh in my mind (I went for a weekend—it was literally freezing) and the new anti-union legislation in Michigan, this seems to fit right in with the Right Wing Power Grab to destroy unions. Not on my watch.

I have spoken to Board members lately about a growing concern—a simmering concern: Since Dr. Budde has come to this district, we have not promoted to administration from within. Our teachers who work to get their administrative degree have to leave the district or settle for a TOSA position in order to use that degree. We’ve got amazing teachers who will make amazing administrators…and they won’t be with this superintendent. That’s sad and insulting. Feel free to call your Board member to chat him or her up if you have energy to put to this. This is on our list when we meet with them.

We have had to devote time and energy to the color of shirts our students wear. Yeah. That’s idiotic, but someone got flummoxed and complained and phone calls were made, e-mails were sent, hands were wrung, students and teachers and a Board member were upset.  And if kids order t-shirts with their own money, as always, they can get whatever the heck they want.

The District has, in this time of austerity, found over $250,000 to make repairs to the Central pool and the Southwest track. And, of course, bolster the retirement account of the Superintendent.

I did take an opportunity during the November meeting to ask Dr. Budde if he’d like to “play Santa even though he doesn’t have to” and pay us the bonus check we will get from the passage of Prop. 30. His answer was a resounding “NO”.  Actually, he accused me of being disingenuous, but he probably wasn’t paying attention to the first part of my query… “I know you don’t have to, but….”. Yes, I am well aware that the MOU stated that we’d get that bonus when the district gets the $5 million from the state (yep…$5,000,000) and Dr. Budde predicts that is in June (in time to sign it over to IID—their second mention in this missive!), but CTA is keeping an eye on the legislature—it might start trickling in in March.  So don’t spend that money until it’s in your check.

Our negotiators have met with Dr. Budde regarding the MOU that is ending at the end of this year. Next year, you can count on returning to the actual contract class sizes.

Steve Walker is now the president of the Board; Emma Jones is the Clerk. Apparently, being on the Board has perquisites worth fighting for: At the December meeting Jeannie Vogel nominated herself for the ROP Board, out of turn. After a bit of Theater of the Absurd, Mrs. Vogel was elected to serve on that Board for a year. Must be some really good chicken dinners….

The new Board also quibbled about the start time for closed session. Apparently they have a 30 minute session and, once the niceties of “hello” are done, there isn’t really time to ask questions—and you’d think that asking questions might be something you want the Board to do.  Apparently, in the past, there wasn’t a need to ask questions to vote the way they are told to vote. I would like to think that someone runs for a Board to use his or her knowledge and experience to help make their changes, but we seem to have a pattern of abdicating original thought or even questioning lately. Changes are coming, I hope.

There are many changes out at UniServ. First of all, we have a new PCS (Primary Contact Staff person). Ed Sibby from Temecula has replaced the retired Ernie Bristow. Ernie was as excellent a PCS as he was a 3rd grade teacher and he taught me many lessons. Ed is a firebrand—a Type A personality who drinks Red Bull by the gallon and runs marathons. I’m thoroughly thrilled that he is here, as he’s brought a freshness to UniServ and to how we do things.  Also out at UniServ, we have a new, bigger, parking lot. We are exploring expanding the building or building a covered patio area for BBQs and social events. Nick Santana is on the committee to help with that. 

We have had a successful Open Enrollment from The Standard—and YOU CAN STILL SIGN UP WITHOUT A DOCTOR’S FORM.  Just see the previous e-mail I sent out…on Wednesday I think.  This is really a feather in our cap; CTA doesn’t let The Standard do these things very often, but I felt confident that many of you would heed my advice and experience.

ECSTA was awarded two “scholarships” from UniServ (OK, back to them….I’m tired and just going in the order of my list): The first conference was the Organizing for Power Conference the first weekend in December. Nick Santana, Chrissy Adams, and I went to Palm Springs for a lovely and long weekend of networking, organizing, and planning our next moves.  We will be discussing this at our next meeting, Tuesday, December 18 in D-16 at 3:15. 

ECSTA was also awarded an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas in January for the Issue Conference. OK, not the entire union, just two of us. We were awarded these conferences because of our hard work on the election and because UniServ and CTA see that we “are going places”. Granted, sometimes, I’d just like to stay home…but who can say “no” to Palm Springs and Vegas????

Kevin McFadden is running for State Council. Again, this is a wonderful opportunity to have our unique needs put on the table at the State level. Ballots are due today at 5 PM to UniServ and I hope we’ll hear some great news next week.

Please mark your calendars for our meetings. I have been consistent in the dates: The 2nd Tuesday of the month is the Executive Board meeting in D-16 at SHS. The 3rd Tuesday is the General Meeting. We have been alternating those between SHS and CUHS. Please make every effort to attend. We value your time and try to keep meetings on schedule and on track. My goal is to be finished by 4:15.

Check out our union website:

Nick has posted our contract, overload forms, and various union news items (local and national). AND DON’T FORGET TO GET YOUR OVERLOAD FORMS IN BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

And again, my cell is 760-554-2606 and my president’s e-mail is

Finally, I’d like to personally thank “my peeps”: Neil, for your intellect, your ability to pick me up when I waver, and your complete confidence in me; Francisco, for taking care of our money and being my personal counselor; Claire, for your notes and encouragement and faith; Nick, for your mad computer skills; Ben, Sandy, Kevin, and Bob for your time and talents as our negotiators.  May Santa fill your stocking with winning lottery tickets!

And just because I received this today and thought it brilliant, I’m sharing it with you. I’ve already made Oliver’s message from Santa that I’ll give him tomorrow night when I get some time with my grandson.


Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year. I wish you peace…..


Catherine Drew

President, ECSTA

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