As 2017 comes to a close, I’ve taken time to reflect on everything that has happened in the last several months, and despite what sometimes feels like a series of never-ending obstacles, I have come to the conclusion that, as an organization, KEA has a lot to be thankful for heading into the new year.
First and foremost, we officially moved into a new office location. We want to give a heartfelt thank you to UAW Local 72 for opening their doors and allowing us use of their space as we transitioned. We are now proudly sharing a building with other labor unions in Room 117 at the Kenosha Union Club located at 3030 39th Ave. We are slowly adding the finishing touches and feel confident that the space will effectively serve KEA staff and membership and will allow us to continue the important work of supporting and fighting for educators and students. I encourage you to bring a colleague and join us for our open house on Thursday, January 25th, from 3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. to chat, chew, and take in the new space.
Secondly, the teacher unit is recertified! Thank you to everyone who took time to vote, make phone calls, send texts, and run around their buildings with their laptops and phones to make sure that their colleagues voted. Your efforts have allowed us to maintain our status as the certified bargaining representative for teachers and has let everyone know that we are sticking with our union and will continue to have our voices heard.
Third, the KEA has hired Kendra Koeppen as a full-time Assistant Executive Director. For the last several years, she has worked tirelessly on making sure our union remains certified, recruits new members, addresses issues that come forward, and keeps the KEA in the public eye. Welcome, Kendra!
Additionally, back in October, Interim Executive Director Chris Perillo, and I met with Superintendent Savaligo-Jarvis for our first meet and confer session. The meeting was a positive one, with discussion around implementation of prep time changes at the elementary school level, a collaboration proposal around ESP lifetime licensure, and disciplinary concerns. We will be scheduling at least two more sessions come the new year, and will provide more detailed updates about the October session and future discussions.
I want to remind everyone that if you have issues or concerns that you feel need to be brought to our attention, please contact Chris, Kendra, or myself. We have seen a lot of success and productivity come out of our KEA member-led committees at the elementary and high school levels and hope to continue this practice of bringing members together to find real solutions to teaching and learning concerns.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to leadership or staff if you are looking for ways to become more involved to help move our union forward. There is a lot planned for the new year, and I am excited and looking forward to working together with KEA officers, board members, association representatives, member leaders, and staff to continue strengthening our union, keeping our voices heard, and providing new educational opportunities for members like you.
I am hoping you have a wonderful, relaxing winter break and an exciting beginning to your 2018.
Jill Jensen, KEA President