Vancouver school board voices support for Webb

Labor group OK’d no-confidence vote in superintendent

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 

The Vancouver school board issued a statement of support Wednesday afternoon for Superintendent Steve Webb, one day after an employees’ labor group approved taking a no-confidence vote.

About 140 members of the Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals (VAESP), which represents about 600 clerical workers, school secretaries, tech assistants and paraprofessionals, met Tuesday. They distributed ballots so their members could vote on the no-confidence issue. The voting deadline is Friday morning.

On Wednesday, the Vancouver Public Schools’ board of directors issued this statement:

“As elected members of the Vancouver School Board, we have complete confidence in Superintendent Steve Webb’s ability to lead our district in fulfilling its educational mission. Over the past 18 months, he has implemented faithfully the board’s directive to seek and gain agreement on layoff and recall provisions in contract negotiations with the Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals (VAESP). These members of the VPS family are key personnel in our schools — secretaries, clerks and paraprofessionals. The board recognizes and appreciates the expertise, caring and dedication they bring to our collective task — preparing our young people for their future.

“Despite agreement with VAESP leaders on a broad range of issues, negotiations stalled on the layoff and recall issue. On Sept. 13, 2011, the board exercised its obligation to implement the district’s best and final offer, which includes necessary and standard provisions for layoff and recall. The finalized contract will remain in place until 2013. These provisions, which are similar to other labor contracts with represented district employees, are essential to the district’s ability to provide and preserve equitable services at all schools while ensuring that we continue to meet our goal of preparing each student for college, career and life. Under the new contract, layoff provisions give the district flexibility to reduce hours among employees rather than eliminating entire positions. Without such language, a school could be left without vital support while other schools are fully staffed.

“We care deeply about children and their education, and we value the contributions of each and every employee of Vancouver Public Schools. Unfortunately, we must prepare for reduced funding again this year due to declining state revenues, and we must seek solutions that maintain current programs and services while retaining staff. We intend to move forward by continuing to act in the best interests of our students, families, employees and community members.”

It was signed by Mark Stoker, board president; Kathy Gillespie, vice president; and directors Edri Geiger, Mari Greves and Dale Q. Rice.