Trading Places

“Buy low, sell high. That’s the other guy’s problem.” said Louis Winthrope, the arrogant stock trader played by Dan Aykroyd (opposite Eddie Murphy) in the 80’s comedy Trading Places.

As the SEA displaced process closes and the voluntary transfer and new hire process simultaneously open, your union wants to remind you that there is another alternative available for those who may be looking to “sell their stock”.  It is called the Employee Exchange Program.  Bargained language Article 18.2 of your SEA contract reads:


Employees will be given the option of arranging an exchange with another employee based upon the following guidelines:

A. Employees shall be qualified/certified to perform the duties of the position.

B. For ESPs, the exchange will be for the period of one school year. For teachers, the exchange will be for the period of one school year at the elementary level, and for either one semester or a full school year at the middle and high school levels.

C. At the end of the exchange period, the employees may choose to:

1. apply to renew the exchange for an additional year (or semester at the middle and high school levels);
2. return to their original position; or
3. with the mutual concurrence of both building principals, make a permanent switch of positions.

D. Initial application for an exchange, application for the renewal of an exchange, or application to request a permanent switch shall be made in writing to the HumanResources Office by April 15th of each school year. All requests shall require the approval of the Superintendent. Action on all requests will be taken by May 10th of each school year. Initial application for an exchange for the second semester of a school year shall be made to the Human Resources Office by November 30 of each school year.

E. Any school affected by RIF or involuntary transfer will base staffing decisions on the employee’s original assignment prior to the exchange.

F. This exchange program shall not be subject to the grievance procedure.

If you think that there may be merit in an exchange of you and another one of your colleagues, please confirm it with that colleague and then establish it formally in writing (by April 15) with Gina Schurman in the SPS186 Human Resources office and carbon copy your union as well.

You most likely have never heard of this, but it is a real thing and another example of how your union members of the past have engaged in progressive human resource problems solving.

Please make sure that your friends and colleagues know about this. Who knows what kind of positive things may lie on the other side of street.




CENSUS 2020 – The Number of the Day is… YOU!

Census data is critical to your family’s welfare and what the future of local public education looks like… Make sure that you are counted.

The 2020 Census counts every person living in the US and its five US territories. It provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and a myriad of others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. Data collected in the next few weeks and months will be used to determine congressional districts, and hundreds of billions of dollars of federal funding for firefighters, school funding, bus routes, fields and community centers and a myriad of other supports essential to our local communities.  Please take part in it and ensure every member of your household, your family and friends, and street is counted. We won’t get another shot at this for 10 more years. 

If you have not yet, please click on the blue Census button to get started on getting counted.

COVID-19 and Beyond – Riders on the Storm

The COVID-19 pandemic has entirely altered the way that every one of us perceives life in just a few mere moments. Funny how tragedy can do that. However, in the wake of every disaster rise heroes in our communities, doing amazing things that remind all of the power of humanity to overcome even the most ominous obstacles. You may have not seen it if you don’t subscribe to the local paper (which I highly recommend), but people in Springfield and the surrounding communities are stepping up and staying strong. Our local State Journal Register veteran reporter, Steven Spearie has covered three such events.

The first story to surface was one in the SJR on the Springfield Families Helping Families Facebook page , established by our SPS Board of Education Vice President, Scott McFarland. Through this platform and the help of many selfless people like Jill Handy and Katharine Eastvold of Springfield and Erin Campbell of Chatham, hundreds of necessary food and health related items for families in need (because of the COVID-19 pandemic) have been provided. Additionally, they were able to establish micro-pantries , where people can donate or pick up what they need (one downtown at 422 S. 5th Street). You can join this group digitally at. There are 7,000 people already on board. What a success story!

The second positive story to surface was a spotlight on how our colleagues are reaching out to students and families in this new “remote learning” realm. The story took a close look at how our SEA professionals established creative online teaching across the board at Pre-K, third grade, middle school ELA, and high school AP, math and German. Our fellow professionals, Carrie Servough, Ben McKinney, Jill Friday, Rachel Johnson, and Eric Koepell (from ELC, Fairview, Washington Middle School, Southeast High and Springfield High) were positively showcased. In addition, parents with kids at Butler, Grant and Lincoln Magnet also commented positively on their teacher’s online prowess and support to their families. As icing on the cake, Springfield teachers were mentioned specifically by the State Superintendent, Dr. Carmen Ayala, in her last memorandum sent out last Friday .

The last positive piece was on our old SPS186 Webmaster of many years, Dave Heinzel, and his unique effort to keep people positive and spread a message of hope. He and the District parted ways back in 2014 . And, as they say, you can’t keep a good man down. Dave decided that what he might do is to create home made signs that attempted to capture the right message for the time we were all navigating and distribute them to those who might support it. “Everything will be ok,” is what it reads. You can see them all over the Historic West Side Neighborhood of town (Fayette, Lawrence, Macarthur, Washington and the surrounding side streets). What a concept… what a positive guy.

Unfortunately, we will all have some tough times ahead, as the confirmed cases multiply wildly. We know that there is a distinct possibility of losing some good people we know and love along the way. Hopefully through it all, we can figure out a way to stay supportive and stay strong and remember, as in the end of every tragedy, everything WILL be ok.

– Aaron

Let’s trust our professionals

I have spoken with people working at insurance companies (State Farm, Farmer’s, Horace Mann), local bank/credit unions (IECU, US Bank, Marine) and State employees. It seems we all are working are tails off during this pandemic.

And, one of the things that we all have in common is kids. At the end of all this, we MUST re-examine why we test our students so much. It absolutely is not what is best for them or public education. REAL engaged learning (as we are all finding) is much more difficult to provide than standardized tests.

– Aaron

Wonder Women March, Official Women’s History Month

Approximately 50 percent of the world’s 7,784,456,081 humans are female. The Illinois Education Association, is composed of at least 72 percent women, 20 percent men and 8 percent non reporting. Seven out of our last ten SEA presidents have been women. And over 70 nations have had women lead their nations (Chandrika Kumartunga, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Angela

Merkel to name a few). It is impossible to dispute that women have played every bit as vital of a role in history as men. However, as recently as the 1970s, women’s history was all but ignored in school, and virtually ignored in most K-12 public school curriculums.

Incited by this inequity, in 1978 , the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a “Women’s History Week”. The local Women’s History Week activities met with tremendous response, and dozens of schools planned special programs for Women’s History Week. Over one-hundred community women participated by doing special presentations in classrooms throughout the country and an annual “Real Woman” Essay Contest drew hundreds of entries. The finale for the week was a celebratory parade and program held in the center of downtown Santa Rosa, California.

Amidst positive pressure from activists and congresswomen, President Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th, 1980 as National Women’s History Week. And only a few years later, in 1987, March was declared as Women’s History Month into perpetuity.
This year’s national March celebration of women has been historic in its own right due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully you have been able to find a way to help our students continue to conceptualize the power of women in our world, their profound impact on our society and the Wonder Woman in themselves. If by chance you have not, never fear… there seem to be plenty of days ahead to accomplish that mission.