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Union appeals to board as "last hope" in discipline issue


About 40 members of the Public Service Employees union attended Monday night’s Grand Coulee Dam School District board meeting to support its officers as they expressed concerns with discipline problems within the district.

Many wore specially produced T-shirts signifying support of efforts to get the board’s attention.

Addressing the board were union President Aaron Derr and Vice-President Jesse Utz.

Derr, in a prepared statement, said union members were coming to the board “as a last hope.”

“The union is not happy with the direction that we see our beloved school going,” he said.

Derr said the year started out on the “right foot,” and satisfaction was improving. Then progress stopped and “we find ourselves in a worse place today” than at the end of last year, he read.

Staff surveys taken last spring and made public in June first brought out widespread dissatisfaction on the issue.

“Numerous employee assaults, major discipline issues, inconsistency, lack of leadership, the trimming down to part time administrators that would normally handle discipline, building safety and the dilemma of overburdened drivers in transportation have all played major factors in getting here, but a lack of communication and no noticeable follow through from the superintendent and administration are the reasons we are here today,” Derr read from the prepared statement Monday night.

“We are not happy with the situation,” Derr continued, “We feel that time and time again we bring issues to management that seemed to get shoved aside, frowned upon or simply forgotten as soon as we leave the room.”

Derr added that “safety is a serious concern right now. We have brought this to the attention of our leaders time and time again. We have seen very few tangible results from these conversations.”

Utz then took over the address to the board. “We feel Lake Roosevelt Schools are being torn apart,” he said, and “that we are not being heard, are ignored and are not valued as employees.”

“We fear a mass exodus of our current principals, teachers, staff, including our bus drivers, custodians, paras, secretaries, mechanics, food service and others, not to mention a mass exodus of students,” Utz stated. “We know we are the grease that keeps this district moving.”

Utz continued: “Our kids need more help, our administrators need support, our assistant principals are doing four full-time jobs on a part-time basis and are pulled multiple directions at the same time.”

For years, Utz read, “we have spoken of changing the impression that people have of Lake Roosevelt and we want to be part of that solution, but we feel that you, the board, may very well be our last hope. We have tried all other avenues. We invite you, the board members, to come to the school and observe our classrooms, the opportunity room, walk our halls in between classes, ride a bus, and experience what our students face daily.”

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