News from the President


A message was sent to the VAESP group district email which included the voting link.  I understand that the group email has not been updated and some of you did not receive the message.  The link is also posted on our closed Facebook.  I have asked for our WEA Riverside Membership liason to send it to all member personal emails tomorrow.   In the meantime, if you did not get the link you may send a request to

Amy Surface

RIF Information March 17

Timeline of RIF Discussions - As I mentioned in the messages prior, Lynn and I along with our union partners, SEIU and VEA were not given information, or the classifications VPS was looking to make cuts, from the beginning of the RIF discussions. It was only until the March 6, 2024, meeting when all (3) labor unions requested to have the information since VPS had announced the Board Docs were going to be released to the public on March 7, 2024. We wanted to let our members know before the information was put out to the public. During the meeting, VAESP met with HR, and we were given the classifications that would be affected: Secretary, Special Program Clerks, Enrollment Clerks and Technology Support Specialists. The classifications were provided and FTE numbers, which I shared to VAESP members, but there was no specific information on how the RIF was going to be implemented in each classification with the exception of the (2) Secretary positions the district was planning on eliminating.

Details on Classifications - On a late Thursday afternoon, on March 14, 2024, Lynn and I were called to a meeting at the district office and for the first time, the district provided documentation and shared how the RIF will be enforced on the classification groups that were going to be impacted. I understand the frustration and anger but to accuse Lynn and I of not representing our enrollment clerks is simply not true. Lynn Davidson is one of the most hard-working people I know. She knows her job well and she is passionate about protecting the rights of the people she represents in her unit. I share the same passion and this is why I love working with Lynn. Here's the information presented by VPS during the meeting on each classification:

Secretary - The district is eliminating (3) secretarial positions at the district office. According to seniority, one secretary will be offered (2) .5 position which would make them whole if they accept the position. In this circumstance, if the person is offered a comparable position and they accept, the staff member will not need to be placed in the re-employment pool. According to our contract, 4.2D All laid-off employees shall be placed in a re-employment pool and unless, recalled in the meantime, remain there for two years (2) years. However, HR stated that due to SEBB laws, an employee can only remain in the re-employment pool until the end of the school year. After the end of the school year August 31, 2024, an employee will lose health insurance if they are no longer employed with the district. If the secretary declines the position, they would be laid off and lose their right to a position. The union will be looking at the SEBB laws since this is in conflict with our contract. If the secretary takes a Paraeducator job for example, the staff member will be given (3) options on the specific Paraeducator positions they would prefer. If the staff member takes a position that is not comparable to the classification, they will stay in the re-employment pool while working on a different assignment or if they are working as a substitute. If the secretary takes a Paraeducator position, the (1) year stay in place will not apply. The (2) remaining secretaries have the possibility of taking another position if available or they can bump the less senior secretaries (8hr) 12 months.

Special Program Clerks - The district said (2) Special Program Clerk Positions will be eliminated. Special Program Clerks will be given an option the district has in order for them to stay employed.

Enrollment Clerks - The district plans on centralizing the enrollment clerk position. VPS said they plan to send the most senior (12) enrollment clerks to Central office and will eliminate (30) enrollment clerks. (3) half time enrollment clerks will keep the other half of the position they hold. This does not include the (2) enrollment clerks who will be retiring. There will be no bumping since the majority of our enrollment clerks will be laid off. This was the first Lynn and I had heard of the district's plan, and we made it clear that we were not in agreement or pleased. Eliminating almost the entire classification is unheard of and these are quality employees who have worked hard at what they do, and some have been with the district for a long time. As we sat in the meeting, we did not know layoff notices were already being given to some VAESP members until I saw the messages on our FB page. Lynn and I understand the role and personal involvement enrollment clerks bring to the building and the added burden it would take on our secretaries. Lynn looked at the numbers and said they didn't add up. The district brought in the CFO who said they factored in health insurance for our members. However, full time enrollment clerks are funded by the state in comparison to part-time enrollment clerks. The district said they will be adding hours to health room clerks. However, enrollment clerks do not have the same responsibilities as health room clerks. I asked the district why the enrollment clerk position was being centralized and if the district had done some research before making the decision. A documented explanation was given to me the next day.

The plan on centralizing enrollment clerks has not been finalized. I have requested a meeting with VPS leadership and the people in charge of making the decision to centralize enrollment clerks. I plan on bringing (1) secretary and (3 elementary, middle & high school) enrollment clerks to the meeting. Lynn and I are working hard, and we will fight for every position that has been affected! All I ask is for unity within our group and for members to not make assumptions or target others as a way to release their own frustrations. I'm grateful that most of our members have been graceful and supportive despite the pain they are enduring. I will keep you up to date.

Paraeducators - The district does not plan on laying off Paraeducators since they have many open positions. Instead, Excess language will be used for Paraeducators and there's a possibility Paraeducators will be sent to different buildings. Paraeducators will be given a choice (3) positions they would prefer. They will have the choice of applying for SPED positions if they prefer.

Technology Support Specialist - The district plans on centralizing the Technology Support Specialist position. VPS plans to send (19) of the most senior to Central office and will eliminate (6) Technology Support Specialists. When I asked VPS how the plan would work given the volume of students TSS's see on a daily basis, the district said they will be using a dispatch model for the buildings. They would monitor the volume in different schools. As a Media Clerk, I'm convinced the plan to centralize our Technology Support Specialists will not work for our schools, the demand from students and staff throughout the day is overwhelming! As with Enrollment Clerks, I have requested a meeting with VPS leadership and the staff in charge of making the decision. Since I am a Media Clerk and I understand the responsibilities of TSS, I plan on bringing a Technology Support Specialist and Teacher Librarian to the meeting. I will keep you informed.

I hope the information presented will help to shed light on the RIF process from the union's point of view. The conversation is not over, and the plans have not been finalized for centralization. We will keep up the fight!


Dear VAESP members...

Yesterday was a difficult day for many of our friends and co-workers who were being told their jobs will be eliminated for the 2024-2025 school year. I feel your pain and I'm deeply sorry for the trauma and uncertainty you are enduring during this difficult time. I can assure you that Lynn and I were not given the information and breakdown on the cuts concerning the VAESP classification groups that would be impacted by the RIF until late Thursday afternoon, on March 14. What happened to our enrollment clerks was a shock and it is not something Lynn and I would have agreed to as a union. I personally know some of our enrollment clerks and they are the best and most skilled people at what they do. All 3 unions (SEIU, VAESP, VEA) had been operating on limited information from the very beginning. For months, VPS told us, "The RIF is imminent, enrollment numbers are low, and we are monitoring the legislative session, but we are not optimistic." When the union asked for additional details, the district said they were waiting on the school board's decision on the RIF, and they would have additional information after the March 12 board meeting. Last week on March 6, the district gave us the job classifications and the FTE numbers in preparation of the Board Docs that were released the following day, on March 7. The district did not share how the cuts would be implemented between special program clerks and enrollment clerks with the exception of the 2 secretary positions that would be affected.

Additional information - I hear the call from many of you requesting additional information and answers. The union will share additional information after the VAESP Executive Board has a meeting on Sunday. Our VAESP Secretary Amy, is currently out of town and the process in our bi-laws is first to meet with the executive board and communicate with our members after. I spent the afternoon on Friday, meeting with HR, listening to staff members who have been affected, responding to emails and phone calls from our members. I'm thankful for the VAESP Executive Board and the VAESP Zone leaders for their willingness to step in and help staff members. I'm sure many of you have lots of questions and I can assure that we will address your concerns and provide the necessary information after the VAESP Board has been briefed.

Thank you for your patience. In Solidarity.

RIF Update March 14

As you may know from my previous message, Vancouver Public School Board voted in favor of the resolution to reduce staff for the 2024-2025 school year. The superintendent met with all three labor unions: SEIU, VAESP and VEA yesterday on March 13. Dr. Snell said he wanted to check in and see if we had any questions or feedback. We had lots of questions. He also shared the school board's desire to move forward quickly with the RIF in order for staff members to make necessary plans. We expressed the need for the district to be transparent regarding the details and names of staff members who will be affected by the RIF.

Today on March 14 - Lynn and I were called to a meeting at the district office later in the afternoon. Present at the meeting was the HR director, HR administrative assistant and the executive director for all the school principals. VPS responded to our request, and they provided us with the list of all the names of VAESP members who will be affected by the RIF. Lynn and I expressed our concerns for staff members who have worked in good standing with the district, and the impact it's going to make in our school buildings. The CFO who joined the meeting, said VPS understands our concerns but the RIF was necessary due to the budget shortfall.

Meeting with principals - The district communicated that staff members facing the RIF will be notified by the principal in their building on Friday, March 15. The protocol is for the school district to notify the affected employees first. I will not share the names out of respect and privacy for our members, friends and co-workers who will be impacted. The director of principals shared that all the principals went through a special training concerning the RIF, and VPS will provide a packet to each employee with helpful information. Principals will also provide an opportunity if a staff member would like to have a union representative present.

Support For Staff - It is going to be a very difficult day in our buildings. I have reached out to the VAESP Board, our Zone Leaders and Building Reps in case our members need help and support. I realize some of our building reps are new and they have never done this type of work before while some buildings do not have a rep, I will share more information that will be helpful in an email. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me or Lynn if you need help, advice, guidance or support. The VAESP Board members and Zone leaders will be available to help as well. I'm saddened that the budget situation has caused our friends and co-workers to lose their jobs. We are here for every staff member who is hurting, and we will get through this difficult time together.

3/14/24 - Lynn Davidson

Questions and concerns are coming in and to answer one of the questions about where to find information about the different classifications in the contract. Article 3.16 Seniority pages 22&23. There are 5 boxes which are categories that follow the salary schedule and were used for crossover hiring purposes until it was discovered that that was in conflict of seniority language this fall.

The 1st box is Secretaries are in a box of their own. They are their own classification.

The 2nd box 1. Enrollment Clerks, 2. Special Program Clerks, and 3. Fiscal Clerks. Each of these is their own job classification even though they are the same pay rate.

The 3rd box are general clerks. Who are paid at the same rate. This box contains eight different job classifications. Media Clerks, Attendance Clerks, Discipline Clerks, Counseling clerks, Career Center Clerks, K-12 Clerks, Aquatics Clerks, and Health/Office Clerks.classifi9cations of para

The 4th box is a categorial box for paras. There are 5 different classifications for paras. Special Program, Learning Support, General, Brialle3, and ASL Interpreters.

Box 5 is for VAESP Technology Specialists.

Hence, each classification has its own seniority list. That is the list that is being used for Layoff and recall.

I hope this helps with understanding.

Thanks, Lynn

Lynn Davidson, UniServ Director WEA Riverside

3/12/24 11pm - Thoughts after VPS Board Meeting
With great sadness, I'm sorry to announce the VPS Board voted for the Reduction in Force at the March 12, meeting tonight. It's the worst I've ever seen it and emotions are raw. Many thanks to everyone who came out, those who spoke and many others who watched the board meeting on Zoom. Let's remember to be kind to our co-workers and that includes Maxim employees who are helping to fill the void whom we also hope, will become union members once their contract is up. The district scheduled a meeting with all the labor unions: SEIU, VAESP and VEA on Wednesday afternoon, March 13. Lynn Davidson will be attending the meeting since I will be at the Courthouse serving on Jury Duty. VPS Human Resources will have a follow-up meeting with Lynn and I in order to go through the next steps in the RIF. I will provide all the necessary information after the meetings take place. I pray to God everyone stays well during this difficult time.

Message from Lynn Davidson 3/11/24

Hello VAESP members, I want to share a little bit about how RIF works when the district decides which classifications will be laid-off. It is very important that Chipo and I don’t participate in how they chose classifications and individuals. The reason is we don’t want any of our members to be laid-off. We believe every VAESP job is needed and then some. For us to give suggestions about who to layoff would be complicit in laying off our own members. We can’t pick and chose for the district. We let them make their decision and then we advocate for individuals so affected and make sure the process is handled according to contract language. Rest assured that throughout this whole process we have been advocating and observing every decision. We will continue to fight for all our members to remain employed. Those who have been laid off, we will fight to make sure contract language is followed as they are placed appropriately and supported. Please remember to be kind to your fellow VAESP colleagues. Everyone is scared and hurting during this time. Union strong!💪🏼


Clarification on the RIF FTE Numbers

Lynn and I received a response from the VPS Human Resources Director and the FTE Reduction numbers we were given at the March 7th RIF meeting are slightly different from the information presented in the Board Resolution due to the following:

  • The Net Reduction 7.8 FTE for Technology Support Specialists in the BoardDocs includes Pro Tech employees as well -- the total reduction in VAESP will not exceed 5 FTE as presented in the memos at the labor group meeting

  • The Net Reduction 16.4 FTE for Secretaries/Clerks presented in the BoardDocs does not include the reduction in staffing for Central Office, whereas the Net Reduction 20.15 FTE for Secretaries, Special Program and Enrollment Clerks presented to VAESP at the meeting included both Central Office and Building-Based FTE in the Calculation

  • The numbers for Gen Ed Paraeducators are the same on both documents Net Reduction 4.5 FTE

Additional Information - To properly advocate for our members, I requested additional information on how the RIF will be enforced on VAESP employees who will be affected and a detailed breakdown on the FTE numbers between Secretaries, Special Program and Enrollment Clerks. This information is hard to share but I promised to be honest throughout the RIF process. The HR Director said he understands and empathizes with the anxiety that myself, Lynn and our members are all feeling, and he shares the same feelings as well. VPS said staffing plans are still in flux.

Secretaries - VPS will be eliminating 2 positions in the secretary classification. As stated in our contract pg. 38. 4.2 D Placement Rights and Procedures -"The employees selected for layoff within each job classification shall have the right to assume a position within the same job classification with the same hours per day and months per year (e.g. eight (8)hours (10) month)." The placement will be based on seniority. For example, a 12-month secretary cannot replace a 10-month secretary with bi-lingual credentials. It has to be the same, a 12-month (8)hr. secretary can only replace a 12-month (8)hr. secretary. The secretary with the least seniority will be placed in a Re-Employment Layoff Pool. I will explain the Layoff process in the next post.

Gen Ed Paraeducators, Enrollment Clerks, Special Program Clerks, Technology Support Specialists - VPS stated that VAESP has made it clear to the district its membership's preference for the reduction of whole positions over partial reduction in position hours as stated in the Comprehensive Professional Agreement. In case you are wondering why our contract recommends eliminating the whole position instead of cutting hours - 4.2 C explains: In no event shall an employee be expected or required to continue to perform those duties or responsibilities of a position which has been eliminated. Please see more information provided in the section on pg. 38. The district assured VAESP, they would honor the contract language. VPS also stated that in some cases, partial reductions would be necessary; therefore, the RIF would be a blend mostly of whole positions and fewer partial reductions.

Names of Staff Affected & Schools - As of now, Lynn and I do not know the names of staff & schools who will be affected by the RIF. As stated by the HR Director, VPS plans on providing position-level information shortly after the VPS Board Meeting. The district will share the names of impacted staff with VAESP leadership prior to sharing notices with employees. The Layoff procedure on pg. 38 explains the process.

General Membership Meeting - The RIF has been a troubling and unsettling process from the beginning and I'm sure our partners VEA (Teachers) and SEIU (Custodians, Bus Drivers etc.) are all experiencing the same pain. Our buildings and sites already have challenges, the shortage in staffing is going to make a negative impact on our student's learning and it will affect staff members' livelihoods. We have arranged a VAESP membership meeting on April 10th at 4:45 PM. The location will be determined and announced once the space is confirmed. VAESP staff members who are affected by the RIF will not walk through it alone. The VAESP Union Board will be available to answer questions, provide guidance, share information and the necessary resources to get everyone through this difficult time.

Chipo Sowards

3/8/24 - RIF FTE Numbers

I wanted to let you know some of the numbers Lynn and I were given at the RIF meeting on Wednesday, March 6, are different from the numbers posted in Board Docs on Thursday, March 7. For example, we were given documentation stating, the Net Reduction 5 FTE (not to exceed) Technology Support Specialists but the Board Doc states, Technology Support Staff will be reduced by 7.8 FTE, For Secretaries, Special Program and Enrollment Clerks, we were given the Net Reduction 20.15 FTE while the Board Docs states, 16.4 FTE. It was a surprise to find out some numbers had changed overnight, and I immediately reached out to the district to find out what happened. Unfortunately, everyone was gone for the day, but we will keep you posted once we get some answers.

Unusual Year - Before the Holiday Break in December, it was disheartening to hear the district was planning on cutting jobs when Lynn and I were first told. It is heartbreaking to see the positions being cut and the staff members who are going to be affected in this way and the snowball effect that will come after. The union was told the names of staff affected by the RIF will be given at a later date after the March 12 board meeting and we have been operating on limited information throughout this whole process.

Advocating For Classified Staff - During the meetings, Lynn and I have been advocating for every classified position and as a union, we chose to not participate in the survey given by VPS. We've always had the mindset; We are in the business of saving jobs and we will not give recommendations for any job to be taken away. When I made the Call-to-Action at the VPS Board meeting, the purpose was for our classified staff to come out and share why the job they hold is essential and the negative impact it will make to students, schools and our livelihood if jobs are taken away. The classified staff who came out to the Board meeting did an amazing job in sharing with the Board. I believe our efforts made a difference but it is still an ongoing battle to prove our jobs are essential. As a union, we are working on your behalf to ensure you have support in the buildings, the work taken away is not redistributed to non-union employees, our VAESP contract is being enforced and the staff affected by the RIF are given all the necessary support and opportunities during the whole layoff process. I will continue to share more as new information is given by VPS. Let's continue to stand together because that is when we are the strongest.

President Chipo Sowards


Update on the RIF March 6th Meeting

Lynn Davidson, our VAESP Union Director and I, had a follow-up RIF meeting with the school district today. Those present were, the VPS Human Resources Director, His Executive Assistant and the Director who represents Principals in all the schools. The purpose for the meeting was to give us insight on the positions (not names) being impacted by the RIF and to go over the layoff process to ensure the steps align with our contract. The Director of Principals said, they highly regret laying off people and this certainly is a difficult time for everyone.

VPS shared the following information, "At next week's board meeting, the Directors will consider a resolution directing District Administration to reduce staffing according to the following terms for the 2024-2025 school year."

Classified Non-Administrative Positions

Net Reduction 20.15 FTE (Full time Equivalent) Secretaries/Clerks

  • Secretary (2)

  • Special Program Clerk

  • Enrollment Clerk

Net FTE Reduction 4.5

  • Gen Ed Paraeducators

Net Reduction 5 FTE (not to exceed)

  • Technology Support Specialists

Layoff Procedure - According to the contract layoff language 4.2D on page 38, the employee affected by the layoff can assume a position within the same job classification with the same hours per day and months per year (if they have higher seniority). Please note - A 12-month employee cannot bump a 10-month employee and a 10-month employee cannot bump a 12-month employee.

Board Meeting - "Following the Board Meeting on March 12, District Administration will meet with VAESP Leadership to verify the names of the impacted employees. The district will then notify all impacted employees. Layoff notices will include the following information regarding the recall pool and resources from the employee assistance program and WorkSource regarding unemployment benefits." - VPS

More Info to come - As the district provides the union additional information, I will share more in order to keep everyone informed. The VAESP Board and I are sincerely saddened by the Reduction In Force. I will share more on the specifics of the layoff and procedure in an upcoming post. Thank you.


Update on the RIF February 28 & 29 Meeting

The VPS HR Director for Classified staff and the Chief Financial Officer requested to have a meeting with Lynn and I, on February 28th. They told us the district continues to face challenges financially and the RIF is necessary. Lynn told VPS that our job as the union, is to make it difficult for the district to lay off staff and we will watch closely, to make sure our contract is being followed. The district wanted to go over the process of the layoffs and how to refill the hours after certain positions have been vacated. VPS mentioned the most protected jobs are Paraeducator positions due to the nature of the funding. Lynn reiterated that once a position is cut, the work cannot be redistributed, it has to go away as well. However, the district explained that it's possible, a school could have a 4-hr. enrollment clerk instead of an 8-hr. This was just an example.

Layoff Process - As we explained, the lay-off is done by seniority within the classification. The reassignment of work is done by classification well. The most senior person in each classification may take positions from less senior people. One cannot take a position that has more hours or a higher rate of pay. However, after our meeting with VPS, it is possible that a 12-month employee with higher seniority can bump a 10-month employee. It's going to depend on where (categories) the district decides to cut. It is possible for a clerk to take a Paraeducator job in order to make up the lost hours. In addition -

  • Jobs will be offered according to seniority

  • Vaesp members will have first priority to all available positions

  • District will ask Vaesp members to name the (3) type of work they would prefer

  • Vaesp members will keep their health insurance as long as they are willing to take work/ the district will have a list

  • Staff could lose health insurance if they are not willing to take work

VPS Board - The school board will adopt an agenda between now and March 7th. The board will identify the categories of the positions that will be cut on March 7th. They will not be naming individuals, but the categories and positions. All three unions, SEIU, VAESP and VEA requested to have a meeting on March 6th with VPS. We wanted to get the information first and share with our members before it goes out to the public. On Tuesday, March 13th, the school board will take action to either approve the resolution or not.

WEA Financial Specialist - The WEA financial specialist met Lynn, the VAESP Director and the VEA Director. Lynn shared that the financial specialist found no gross negligence on Vancouver Public Schools' finances. She said school districts throughout Washington State are facing the same challenges due to Covid funds being phased out and low enrollment. The staff hired with Covid money are not automatically impacted by the job cuts. Programs funded by Federal & Grant money always have to work within their budgets. She said the district is not following the same pattern with Covid hires.

Summer Program Jobs - When I asked about summer program jobs, VPS said there's not a freeze. Summer programs are within the 2023-2024 budget, title 1. Vaesp members will have an opportunity to apply for summer work.

RIF/ Building Concerns February 29 - Lynn and I have a Labor Management Meeting with the HR Director once a month. I requested to have a follow-up meeting with the HR Director in order to further discuss and resolve building concerns brought to us by staff members. Lynn and I met with the HR Director and had a discussion regarding the RIF and pressing concerns in various buildings. I will follow-up and provide answers to staff members who personally reached out with their questions and concerns.

I'm sure there are still many questions regarding the RIF, Lynn and I will work to resolve them, in real time as we get more information. I will provide an update on the March 6th RIF Meeting.

In Your Service ~ Chipo Sowards

2/7/24 - CALL TO ACTION!!!!!

VAESP is asking all union members and supporters of education to attend the VPS board meeting on Tuesday, February 13th. Vancouver Public Schools has projected an 8 - 10% Reduction In Force and the VPS Board will soon decide where the cuts on staff should come from. The upcoming meeting is critical, and the VPS Board needs to hear from us.

TAKE A STAND — Here are four things you can do to support VAESP professionals: 1) Please attend and fill up the board room, 2) Sign up to share once you enter the meeting. Each person has three minutes. 3) Let the board know how the Reduction In Force will negatively impact your classroom, students and workplace and 4) Let the board know how the RIF will affect your life personally.

WEAR RED — Our VAESP Board is working on getting us new t-shirts. We hope they will be ready by Tuesday. More information to come.

As a Media Clerk, I've been through a Furlough during the pandemic and prior to that, I received a call from a co-worker that my position would be eliminated for the 2019-2020 school year. The cuts involved 19 media clerks: 7 counseling clerks and 4 wing clerks. I was in Spokane WA at the time, doing union work. It was difficult to hear but that call gave me an incentive to advocate for our jobs like never before!

The union was relentless! WEA, our state union, sent us a financial expert to look into the district's finances, they gave us skilled union leaders and all the necessary resources to assist our union local, we showed up at the board meetings and the picket lines. Thank God, we ended up keeping our jobs the upcoming school year. For as long as I've worked in education, we've always had to prove our worth as employees, bargain and continuously advocate for our jobs in order to get better wages and working conditions.

These are difficult times and emotions are high, let's remember to stand with each other because we are stronger as one, and be respectful to others.

Thank you ~ Chipo Sowards

Update on the RIF January 31st Meeting! 2/3/24

The Superintendent met with all three union presidents and our directors, Lynn Davidson and I (VAESP), SEIU and VEA. The principal who represents all school principals in the district was also at the meeting and a few VPS representatives who are involved in the RIF discussion. Dr. Snell gave a recap on the Reduction In Force plan from the conversation he had with us before going on winter break. It refers to my first posting that I shared on the VAESP FB page and VAESP website regarding the RIF. VPS shared at the first meeting, they will no longer receive Covid Fund dollars. As a result of the budget deficit, the school Board identified a Reduction In Force of 8-10% staffing.

The Superintendent shared that we are looking at an imminent RIF. He said, at the next school board meeting on Tuesday, February 13th, the board will have a conversation on coming up with a plan and for the RIF to be done sooner than later. In March, VPS will finalize the path towards a Reduction In Force and will begin notifying staff. He said the key date is March 12 and it will be done before spring break. I encourage everyone to attend the next school board meeting and wear red. We need to stand together and advocate for every job as it is essential for our students' success! We need to let the school board know the impact of these decisions. Many of us cannot survive or feed our families if we don't have jobs.

Dr. Snell said, if the district reduces Federal funded programs, VPS will lose funding. He said VPS will identify and set aside protected positions such as SPED Positions, Dual Language and CTE etc. He said there would be possible "Bumping" depending upon the Collective Bargaining agreement with the union.

I would like to explain the process since the word "Bumping" does not appear in our contract. If VPS goes through with their plan to lay off employees, we are going to have a classification list for the RIF. Please take a look at Article 3:16A Seniority on page 22 of our contract. The possible "Bumping" will be based upon seniority in each classification. On 3.16A Job Categories. Box 1. Secretaries - only a secretary can bump another secretary. The same applies on box 2. Enrollment Clerks etc. Only an enrollment clerk can bump another enrollment clerk. Box 3. Clerks, only a media clerk can bump another media clerk, box 4. Paraeducator, only a special program paraeducator can bump another special program paraeducator. Box 5. Technology Support Specialist can only bump another tech support in the classification.

Dr. Snell said the district stopped filing positions at the Central Office and there's a reduction on non-staff related costs. He expressed that the school Board would like VPS to work closely with the labor unions. We will still see job postings depending on the funding of the program. As you may know, VAESP does not agree with the RIF. I asked Dr. Snell some questions on how the district used the temporary Covid dollars, the impact on our schools and how the Levy money is being used. We will work closely with WEA and our union partners to achieve the best possible outcome for our members.

The district will have a follow-up meeting with our unions this upcoming week on February 7. I will share more as the district provides us with the necessary information.

Like many of you, my heart is heavy. This was hard to write. Let's continue to stand together, we are the strongest when we stand as one. Thank you for your support.

~ Chipo Sowards VAESP President

Update On the RIF Meeting 1/28/24 

VPS requested to meet with VAESP in order to discuss the process of Employee Layoff and Recall concerning Classified staff. Lynn Davidson, our union director and I, met with HR. One of the principals who sits at the table, representing all principals in the school district, was also present. HR told us they do not have the specifics on which positions will be affected but they wanted to meet with Lynn and I to go over the Layoff and Recall procedure as stated in Article 4.2 - 4 F of our contract.

Lynn made it clear that VAESP does not agree with VPS direction and plans to lay off school district employees. We also discussed the concerns with 1:1 Paraeducators who have students on IEPs. The Layoff will reduce the number of adults available to assist students. In addition, the union received messages from VAESP employees who shared that a group of them were called in the office by their principal and were told they will not have jobs next year due to budget cuts in their school. Another building reached out to Lynn and I expressing similar concerns. These incidents have brought some of our members to tears, causing anxiety and fear due to the uncertainty of losing their jobs. The principal we met with said he was concerned if staff members were being given that type of information. He said we will not know the jobs that will be affected until March. VAESP requested for Principals to not share specifics regarding the RIF since we do not have the details, and nothing is concrete.

VAESP, VEA and SEIU have been invited to another RIF meeting scheduled on January 31st by the school district. As promised, I will keep you informed as new information unfolds and we hear from the district and VPS School Board.

I encourage every union member to have a copy of our contract since we will be discussing these issues in the upcoming months. The contract language needs to be worked on and improved during our full Bargain in the 2024 -2025 school year since some areas of our contract might be confusing and difficult to understand. It is premature to answer questions regarding layoffs during this time, but we will work through it together as we advocate for every position that will be affected. The Comprehensive Professional Agreement was given to building representatives in every school. It is also posted in VERN and on our VAESP website. As always, the union is actively working on all buildings to have a union rep so you can receive important information in a timely manner. Please let us know if there's anyone who is interested in becoming a building rep in your school and feel free to make copies of the contract if you need one.

Let's continue to support each other and stand strong.

Chipo Sowards

News from President Chipo Sowards regarding inclement weather closure 1/16/24

I wanted to let you know that we have been monitoring the situation regarding the ice storm warning from weather forecasters. Several members from JPC and the Warehouse reached out to me expressing their concerns since Ten (10) and Twelve (12) month employees are still expected to report to work unless they make alternative arrangements according to our contract unless the Superintendent officially closes the Administrative Office and auxiliary sites.

It would have been much easier if VPS officially closed all the buildings and sites in light of the experts warning us of dangerous road conditions but for now, that is not the case. Our VAESP Union Director Lynn Davidson, has reached out to the Superintendent and HR expressing our concerns. We will keep you updated once we hear from VPS.

For now, I encourage everyone to take every precaution to be safe and make alternative arrangements according to our contract.

3.25A Nine (9) month employees assigned to school buildings should not report for duty. The school day will be rescheduled, and the time will be worked on the make-up day.

Ten (10) and Twelve (12) month employees assigned to the Administrative office and auxiliary sites (e.g. Propstra Pool, Jim Parsley Center, Maintenance, Transportation, and Warehouse) are to report for duty as soon as driving conditions allow unless the Superintendent officially closes the Administrative Office and auxiliary sites.

If conditions preclude reporting for duty, employees have the choice to make-up the missed time, take uncompensated leave, personal leave, or vacation.

Please email your Building Administrator and communicate your preference.

Clearly, we will need to work on our contract with the district when Bargaining allows for changes to be made. If school buildings are closed due to unsafe road conditions, the same should apply to staff who are expected to report for work.

Chipo Sowards
VAESP President

Message from the VAESP President 12/11/23:

Hello VAESP members
My name is Chipo Sowards. As you may know, Barb Plymate, our union President, retired on 11/30/2023. I have since transitioned from my position as Vice President to President pursuant to our Bylaws and Constitution. I look forward to serving you in this capacity and will work hard to advocate for you in the workplace and our students’ needs.   

I wanted to inform you that Vancouver Public School invited VAESP, VEA and SEIU leadership to a Reduction In Force (RIF) meeting on Friday, December 8, 2023. VPS informed us of their plan to cut jobs effective in the 2024-2025 school year. The district stated, “Federal COVID relief funds are phasing out, Enrollment – larger graduating classes and smaller kindergarten cohorts and it is unlikely to see dramatic increases in K-12 funding for 2024 in the Legislative session.  

VPS School Board will meet on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 to set a 5-10% target for the projections. In January, 2024, VPS will review enrollment and the projections. In February,  2024, VPS will invite all 3 local unions, VAESP, VEA and SEIU for a labor check-in. In March, 2024, VPS will start identifying the positions to be cut and our unions will be invited for a discussion.  
I would like to assure that VAESP will work together with our union partners, VEA and SEIU, to advocate for the jobs that will be affected. We will also invite WEA, our state union, to assist by providing their financial experts to assist in making assessments on VPS finances.  We currently do not have enough information to act on and we will have to for the school Board to make their final decision.  

I did not want to send you off on Holiday Break on such a difficult topic but I wanted to be transparent as your union. We will stand strong together! Please attend the school board meeting and wear red. We will keep you informed as new information is shared.

Thank you.  
Chipo Sowards