Sunday, November 29, 2020

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Williams teachers vote no confidence in superintendent 

Members of the Williams Teachers Association donned matching T-Shirts that read, “Teachers are the Core of Our School,” for last Thursday’s meeting of the Board of Trustees. 

The group, mostly elementary school teachers, used their time set aside for the union’s report to read a four-page resolution that stated a 97 percent “Vote of No Confidence” in Superintendent Edgar Lampkin. 

The union presented the resolution to the school board in advance of their closed session evaluation of the district’s top administrator, which was held immediately after Thursday’s open meeting in the multi-purpose room. 

“The members of the Williams Teachers Association have no confidence and no trust in Superintendent Lampkin’s ability to effectively lead the Williams School District,” read Craig Roper, a transitional kindergarten teacher at the elementary school. “The Williams Teachers Association members urge the Board of Trustees not to renew the contract of Superintendent Edgar Lampkin for the coming school year because the students, community, and staff of Williams deserve better.” 

The school board did not take action on that request, and, along with most of the administrative staff, favors the course Lampkin has laid out for the schools. 

On Monday, Lampkin said the WTA resolution reflected the union’s clear disagreement with the Governance Team’s total focus on kids first.  

“Our administrative team, 4-6 (grade) and the vast majority of our 7-12 teachers are focused on our kids and making sure we are putting kids first,” Lampkin said. “You can see this in the major changes we have been working on and staying on target with. In a couple more years, we will be seeing a whole different story about Williams USD. Our narrative will be on being a district that is on the move towards excellence. Our student achievement will be showing incremental growth, and our facilities will be modernized and our portables replaced in four years with permanent 21st century classroom buildings. That is where my focus is…on continuous improvement and supporting our teachers and administrators who are following that vision.”

The union, however, has been at odds with Lampkin for well over a year after he allegedly ignored their demand to bargain for a 6 percent salary hike and an increase in health benefits when their contracts expired before the 2017-2018 school year. 

The breakdown in negotiations resulted in the union filing for impasse with the California Public Employment Board, which resulted in the establishment of a neutral fact-finding panel to review the district’s finances. 

According to the final report, released by the State of California, the panel, signed by chairwoman Renee Mayne, sided with Williams Unified that no salary increases should be offered the teachers. 

She did, however, side with the union for Williams Unified to increase the district’s (taxpayers’) contribution to teacher health insurance premiums from $711 a month to $900, which the school board approved. Mayne also agreed that “minute for minute” overtime should be paid to teachers for various situations, including taking in one or more students from a separated class or substituting during preparatory time.  

The school board also approved a 1 percent salary increase to both new teachers (as a recruitment tool) and for teachers who have worked at the district 22 or more years (as a retention tool). At the time, Williams Unified teachers made $98,000 a year plus benefits at the top level, which was already higher than any school district in Colusa County, according to the California Department of Education.  

To compensate for the increases and an unbudgeted loss of 23 students this year, the school board eliminated several teacher positions, including the PE and Music teachers, and 12 paraeducators at the elementary school, which the union claimed was retaliatory. 

According to the resolution, Williams Unified receives more Local Control Funding than any school in the county, but that the district spends excessively on consultants and attorneys. 

“It is the only district making cuts to essential personnel and valued programs,” a teacher said during the meeting. 

Also on Thursday, Tamara Conry, a California Teachers Association regional staff member, issued a demand letter to Lampkin that the district bargains the impacts and working conditions on the Transitional Kindergarten through sixth grade teachers as a result of the staffing cuts.  

Conry said the music and PE program, which provides elementary teachers preparatory time, is in the current Local Control Accountability Plan. She said the teachers expect Lampkin to schedule a meeting, in which he should be present to “listen and take note to what they have to say.” 

“The elementary teachers want to keep their very qualified Music and PE teachers, for their students, that is in the current LCAP,” Conry said. “It is not too late to change the LCAP for next year when it has not gone though the entire process yet. It is also not too late to rehire the Music and PE teachers the District has laid off or hire others if they have gained employment in another district, or choosing not to come back to the Williams school district.” 

According to the teachers, Lampkin’s “negative behavior” has caused dozens of students to leave the school district this year, and “more parents have stated their children will leave next year if Lampkin is still superintendent.”

They also said Lampkin is the reason for the high rate of teacher departure. 

On Thursday, the school board accepted the resignation of five teachers, and the resolution stated that as many as 15 more teachers have threatened to leave the district. 

Editor’s Note: The Williams Teachers Association April 19, 2018 Resolution of “No Confidence” inaccurately states that Superintendent Edgar Lampkin was quoted in the local newspaper as shaming students for their test scores. The story that ran in the Oct. 25, 2017 edition of The Pioneer Review referenced that Williams Unified School District teachers, during the Oct. 19, 2017 meeting, accused Lampkin of shaming students and misrepresenting test scores of the Board of Trustees.  

Susan Meeker
Susan Meeker
Susan Meeker is the Editor and Reporter for the Pioneer Review. She started her position with the Pioneer Review in January 2017 as the Advertising Manager. Susan specializes in local crime, government reporting. She also loves covering the various topics and events in our county. You can send her a message at susan@colusacountynews.net

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