Take Action on HB20: Voucher Bill

1. Take Action to Stop the Voucher Program HB20!

The House Education Committee is hearing this bill on Tuesday, February 2 at 1:15pm

From NEA-NH:
About the Bill

A new bill that would create the country’s first nearly universal voucher program has been introduced as the top priority for lawmakers in the 2021 session. House Bill 20 (HB 20) would require the state to use tax dollars currently allocated for public education to fund “Education Freedom Accounts.” Parents could then receive between $3,786 and $8,458 per student in state dollars, depending on eligibility and fees, to use for private/religious school tuition or homeschooling expenses. 

The bill creates the same voucher program that lawmakers originally introduced in 2017 which was killed because of the deep inequities it would cause for students, as well as the steep costs to the state and local towns. 

House Bill 20 has no accountability requirements as to whether students are getting an adequate education or that public funds are being used for the correct purposes. This bill is similar to the bill that was present by lawmakers back in 2017. This bill was defeated because of the major costs to state and local taxpayers. 

Read about the bill here:

To speak out against HB20, school voucher program:

The hearing on HB 20 is scheduled for the House Education Committee on this Tuesday, Feb. 2, beginning at 1:15 pm. We encourage every reader of this update to sign in against HB 20 using the process outlined below. We also encourage individuals to testify against HB20.

Committee hearings are being held remotely so you have an opportunity to register your opposition by clicking the following link: Register Opposition to HB 20.

1. Click on the calendar for February 2nd
2. Select House Education Committee
3. Select, “I am a member of the Public”
4. Click “I oppose the Bill”

Please be sure to do this in advance of the 1:15 pm hearing time.

If you wish to testify, this should be a long hearing so check into the meeting when you can at Members of the public may attend using the following links: 1. To join the webinar: https://www.zoom.us/j/99800820017 2. Or Telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 1-929-205-6099 3. Webinar ID: 998 0082 0017   You are encouraged though to still complete the form as noted above. If you would like to submit written testimony you can send it to this address: HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us

2. Petition to Add New Hampshire Teachers to Phase 1B:

New Hampshire is one of only two states that has chosen to not vaccinate teachers in phase 1B, as recommended by the CDC. Let’s share our concern with our Governor, Chris Sununu, our students families and the task force in charge of distribution! Sign the petition to voice your concern: https://www.change.org/p/new-hampshire-state-house-add-new-hampshire-teachers-to-phase-1b

3. NEA-NH Opposes HB609: “Innovation Schools” Bill 

This overly broad piece of legislation creates a method by which public schools and districts can seek waivers of rules and laws that pertain to providing education to students. 

It gives tremendous, arguably unconstitutional, power to the State Board of Education to approve waivers on a nearly unlimited number of education and labor standards including waiving: provisions in your collective bargaining agreements teacher certification standards numerous labor and workplace protections special education and other critical services that every student deserves.

HB609 removes local accountability by giving state-level officials—rather than elected local school boards—chartering authority for schools that do not follow the legal obligations of public schools undermining more than 100 years of local control of our schools.

This bill is, in essence, a way to create charter schools within the public school system and again, like many ALEC corporate proposals, targets changing worker’s rights and the rules for teacher pay, pensions, hours, and other conditions of employment. The bill would give chartering authority for these so-called “innovative schools” to state-level officials, even though the bill purports to respect the tradition of local administration of school systems.

Get Out the Vote!

SEA and NEA-NH encourage you to vote for pro-education candidates tomorrow! Below you’ll find a list of recommendations from NEA-NH for candidates who support public education at the local, state and national levels. Additionally, NEA has endorsed the Biden/Harris ticket in the presidential race. If you live outside our school districts, please click here for NEANH’s full list of recommendations

NEANH New Hampshire Seacoast Recommendations:

For Governor:
Dan Feltes

For US Senate:
Jeanne Shaheen

For US Congress:
Chris Pappas

Hampton 
Jeanne Shaheen- US Senate
Chris Pappas- US Congress
Mindi Messmer- Executive Council
Tom Sherman- NH Senate
Robert “Renny” Cushing- NH House
Mike Edgar- NH House
Katherine Harake- NH House
Tom Loughman- NH House

Hampton Falls, Seabrook
Jeanne Shaheen- US Senate
Chris Pappas- US Congress
Mindi Messmer- Executive Council
Tom Sherman- NH Senate
Aboul Khan (R)- NH House
Greg Marrow (D)- NH House
Patricia M. O’Keefe (D)- NH House

North Hampton
Jeanne Shaheen- US Senate
Chris Pappas- US Congress
Mindi Messmer- Executive Council
Tom Sherman- NH Senate
Jim Maggiore- NH House

ADA Accommodations and Families First Act Benefits

As we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year and the potential for full re-entry into our classrooms, we recognize that many of you may have concerns regarding your ability to return to school in person.  For a variety of reasons, you may be wondering whether you qualify for benefits under the Families First Act and/or whether you qualify for ADA accommodations, which may enable you to work remotely from home. As a result, you may need to know how to request accommodations from the district.

Seacoast Education Association and NEANH are here to support you and provide assistance in navigating these waters.  It’s important for you to have the necessary tools and information as they become available.  We’ll be with you every step of the way: providing materials, answering questions, and accompanying you in your meetings with the district.

In addition, SEA has been working hard on two Memorandums of Agreement to address a wide range of changes for the 2020-21 school year beginning with our top priority: your health and safety.

1. Families First Coronavirus Response Act Benefits:

Determining Your FFCRA Eligibility (link)

FFCRA Paid Leave Rights (link)

The US Department of Labor has developed an online flow chart to help you determine if you qualify for benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  These benefits include emergency paid sick leave and/or paid leave to care for children if school or daycare is closed.  

2. Medical Accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):

If you have health conditions that increase your risk if exposed to COVID-19 (e.g. respiratory conditions, immune deficiencies, heart conditions, etc.) then you are considered “high risk.” In the event that employees are asked to return to work in school buildings, you have protections available under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that require your employer to provide accommodations.  SEA has already made the district aware of this process and your superintendents are already preparing for the accommodations that may be requested by “high risk” employees.  This request will trigger an “interactive process” in which SEA representatives will accompany you through meetings with the district to discuss potential options and determine what accommodations are reasonable to implement. 

Conditions likely to qualify for ADA Accommodations include: Chronic lung disease, asthma, serious heart conditions, immune system compromising conditions, diabetes, hypertension, kidney or liver disease. Conditions that may qualify include certain mental health conditions (anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD), pregnancy, or being 65 or older (age is not in itself a disability, but it does not hurt to make a request if you are 65 but have no underlying health condition, since it puts the district on notice that you are particularly at risk)

Possible ADA Accommodations include: Working remotely, performing duties that require less interaction with other people, additional protective equipment, etc. Your employer is only required to make a reasonable accommodation and is not required to take actions that would impose an undue hardship on the employer or other employees.  However, you will not know what is possible unless you make a request. 

SEA Members caring for high risk individuals likely do not have ADA rights, however such rights can be bargained and members may have leave rights under the Families First Coronavirus Recovery Act or the Family and Medical Leave Act. 

Requesting ADA Accommodations for Returning to School During the COVID-19 Pandemic:

  1. Copy and paste the italicized text below into an email to your superintendent.
  2. Cc your SEA president, your SEA building representative and your principal or immediate supervisor.
  3. Read and edit the text as appropriate before sending. 

Dear Superintendent:

I am writing to request reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I understand that you may require employees to return to work in schools before the COVID-19 virus has been controlled.  I have a health condition that places me at heightened risk for serious complications from COVID-19.  Please let me know if you would like me to provide medical documentation.  

My suggestions for accommodations are the following:

I would like to hear the District’s ideas about possible accommodations also.

Please respond to my message in a reasonable amount of time so we can decide on reasonable accommodations before the school year begins.  Please include my union representative (copied on this email) in discussions and meeting invitations related to this request.

Sincerely, 

Your name

We hope you find this information helpful in these difficult times and we will provide more as it becomes available.  Please feel free to reach out to your SEA representatives or leadership at any time if we can be of further assistance in this process.

SEA Commitment to Anti-Racism

Seacoast Education Association stands in solidarity with protesters from all 50 states and around the world demanding an end to systemic racism and police violence. We mourn the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, and we will work for justice on their behalf. Black Lives Matter and we are committed to holding law enforcement, decision-makers, elected officials, and institutions accountable. We are dedicated to the following actions in New Hampshire schools:

-Ending Zero Tolerance discipline policies in schools
-Hiring Black educators and creating a more diverse teaching force
-Mandating Black history and ethnic studies in K-12
-Equitable funding for New Hampshire schools
-Anti-racist training and professional development for teachers
-On-going education, resource-sharing, and discussion among educators and colleagues
-Funding for school counselors and culturally sensitive social-emotional learning curriculum
-Providing a safe and effective learning environment for students of color
-Engaging in programs, campaigns, policies, and capacity-building efforts that dismantle institutional racism now and into the future

Thanks for Voting and Congrats to the 2020-2021 SEA Representatives and Officers

Thank you, SEA members, for voting in our 2020 elections and a big thanks to our dedicated representatives and officers -present and future.  A special shout-out goes to John Croteau and AJ Pruett for so many great years of service as President and Vice President.  We all appreciate your steadfast leadership and the sacrifices you made to be there for us time and time again.  Thank you, John and AJ!

The results are as follows:

SAU 21 Reps:
Hampton Falls
Kelli Maynard
Amy Roy

North Hampton
Daniel Singer
Debra Vasconcellos

Seabrook Elementary
Lyndsey Hamblet
Janice Hartley

Seabrook Middle
Rebecca Scherbon
Matthew Wooley

South Hampton
AJ Pruett

Winnacunnet
Ron Auffant
Wendy Bergeron
Stacy Brown
John Croteau
Sarah Edgar
Andy Gushee
Michael Myers
Amy Scholes
Sarah Trahan
Amy Waterhouse

SAU 90 Reps:
Centre School
Johanna McPhee
Cindy Colby

Hampton Academy
Justin Coggeshall
Jim Doherty
Sean Tierney

Marston School
Michelle Croteau
Amber Levine

SEA Officers:
Co-Vice Presidents:
Amy Murphy
Andy Gushee

President:
Andrew Wallace

Treasurer:
Brandon Michaud

Secretary:
Karin Backstrom

March 10th Election Results

Last night’s election results were mixed to say the least. It’s with heavy hearts that we report that the SAU 90 teachers’ contract failed by 45 votes despite our efforts.  The results in Hampton were surprising on several levels, but we can learn from them and come back even stronger next year.  This is no consolation for the loss SAU 90 members are facing, but we reiterate our commitment to passing this contract.

We want to thank everyone for their hard work -the sign holders, postcard writers, lawn sign hosters, phone bankers, Facebook sharers and fundraiser raffle buyers & donors and of course, our great reps and negotiations team.

There were certainly many positive results here as well that deserve mention.  We congratulate the SESPA Paraeducators’ for their well deserved contract victory and all of the pro-education candidates who won office last night. In addition, all of the budgets passed (Go Seabrook!) and with the exception of Hampton Falls paving project, all of the SAU 90 and 21 school upgrades passed as well. 

Here is a condensed list:  
-SAU 90 and 21 budgets passed including a big win in Seabrook!
-SESPA contract passed!
-All SAU 90 and 21 school upgrade warrant articles passed  
(with one exception -the Hampton Falls paving project)
-Patricia O’Keefe won BIG for Seabrook Rep on WHS Bud Comm
-Andrea Shepard won the Hampton school board seat
-Jason Farias won the Hampton Falls school board seat
-Jennifer Hubbard and Kelli Hueber won Seabrook seats
-Nermina Peterson and Martin Tavitian won North Hampton seats
-The Hampton Firefighters contracts unfortunately did not pass