SEA September Shuffle

A month and a half into the standard school year, the Springfield Education Association, is hitting on all eight cylinders.

Every school has been visited by your union president, Aaron Graves, at least one time thus far and your SEA Vice-president, Leslie Termine has been able to find time to visit several as well. Your SEA Special Education Solutions Chair, Lindsey Rudd, has met multiple times with district administration and special education colleagues in efforts to address issues mutually concerning to both student, staff and community. The Literacy Task Force, chaired by Melissa Hostetter, has gained several more members, has established a FB page for information/idea sharing, and convened for its meeting of the 23-24 year.

Your SEA Elementary Solutions Co-chair,Sarah Maley, SEA treasurer, Jennifer Rockwell, SEA VP, Leslie Termine, President, Aaron Graves, and IEA Uniserv Director, Sean Burns, met with SPS186 administration, Jennifer Gill and Jason Wind, board members, Erica Austin and Ken Gilmore, the State’s Attorney, Dan Wright, the SPD Chief of Police, Ken Scarlette, and the NAACP Alternative School Coordinator, Tim Allen, for our first ever Violence Prevention Round Table August 31 . Your SEA Sick Bank Chair, Dixie McQuality, has made certain that the bargained benefit of Sick Bank has continued to run strong, supporting our members in crisis. Your SEA Treasurer, Jennifer Rockwell, is working diligently to assure that your dues dollars are hard at work and that the new IEA dues structure is transparent. And our SEA Bargaining Chairs,  Christine Sander and Leslie Termine, are already spinning up, and planning together.

The SEA Elementary, Middle School and High School Solutions Committees (chaired by Mindy Daley, Sarah Maley, Katherine Stearns and Dylan Leach) all met September 27 to keep closely tied to the pulse of our members.  Fifteen of your fellow SEA members met as part of the union arm of the bargained SEA Curriculum Committee on September 28. Your SEA Insurance Committee chairs, Christine Sander and Mindy Daley, had an internal meeting to remind district administration of the absolute needs for better health, dental and vision care plans for all of our district employees.

We had nearly a half dozen SEA members at the table for the monthly SPS186 Equity Meeting, and our internal SEA Equity Development Team is having its first meeting of the year, September 14. Twelve SEA members attended the September SPS186/SEA Professional Growth Systems meeting September 11, in an effort to bring about positive change to our evaluation system.  Our SEA Grievance Committee  held its first meeting of the year September 26, to address any violations or district policy or contractual language.  And finally our political action committee, chaired by Dalton McGee, will meet before the month’s end too.

Your union, made up of fellow colleagues and friends, is working hard with and for you. Please make certain to thank your leaders and consider joining in one of these committees to help make our profession and school system better through unified and collective effort. Together, we are stronger.


-Aaron Graves

Springfield Education Association President

SEA & Cost-Saving Partnership with Memorial Health Care

image.jpgDear SEA Members,

At this week’s March 6th school board meeting, Superintendent Gill introduced a new partnership agreement between District 186 and Memorial Health Care Systems. The purpose of this partnership is to reduce SEA members’ out-of-pocket costs, improve and expand health services, and help keep premiums down.

The 186 Board of Education is expected to vote on this new partnership at the April 9th board meeting.

SEA Members:

  • will maintain their current insurance program and all associated benefits through Blue Cross Blue Shield.
  • are still free to see physicians outside of the Memorial Services.
  • must carry district insurance to access these benefits.

SEA members will receive a presentation of this new partnership with MHCS at our May 8th AR meeting. All members are welcome to attend.

Program summary:

  • Zero co-pay at all five Memorial Health Care Clinics. (Current co-pay is $25)
  • Free Virtual Care with SmartVisit 24/7. (Currently costs $40)
  • Nurse concierge service to assist with scheduling of appointments and making referrals. (Currently not available)
  • Free care coordination to align services and support members with more complex needs. (Currently not available)
  • 5 free health and wellness events per year.

Yours in Education,

Crysta Weitekamp
SEA President

Springfield Area Students Plan Actions To Address Gun Violence (, 3/6/18)

Student activists from Parkland, Florida, have toured the country speaking out about gun violence after a gunman killed 17 people at their school in February. They recently made a stop in Chicago and their cause has inspired students all over the country, including in the Springfield area.

About 20 students from a variety of local schools gathered at a table in the community room of a grocery store Monday evening. They discussed plans for a walk out and rally. A few adults representing activist groups that have organized events, including the women’s marches in Springfield, were on hand to help work out logistics, such as city permits.

Claire Farnsworth, an 18-year-old senior from Chatham, led the meeting. She got her introduction to activism after starting a petition about her school’s dress code last year. She found its limit on attire for females sexist. She went on to form a feminist club, and now, she’s also focused on addressing gun violence.

“Going anywhere honestly is a scary thing right now. For as long as I can remember, especially in high school, people have made school shooter jokes, which is kind of inappropriate, but that’s just the culture in which we live. The fact that you can joke about that because that’s so normal, it’s appalling and just distasteful. It’s just how we live. It’s just our culture.”

Farnsworth said she wants to get kids from all local schools at the table.

“There’s a lot of differences, not only culturally but demographically, and we want to make sure that everyone’s voices are being heard,” she said. “If not everyone’s involved, there’s no point in it.”

The ACLU’s Illinois chapter recently encouraged schools to respect free speech rights. Across the nation a student walk-out is planned for March 14, with rallies and marches to happen on March 24th.

ACLU lawyer Rebecca Glenberg said schools should take advantage of letting students acquire hands-on experience when it comes to civic engagement, and teachers shouldn’t shy away from discussion about the realities of current events. “Protection of minority viewpoints and listening to other viewpoints with an open mind are really important skills for a school to teach its students,” said Glenberg.

A statement from Springfield’s District 186 indicates it will respect students’ rights to organize, and won’t punish students for participating, as long as they come to an agreed-upon set of guidelines with the administration. The district emphasized the events don’t reflect its endorsement of any specific cause.

“Our goal is to allow peaceful and safe participation and minimize disruption of the school day,” the statement reads. “It is our responsibility during these times to keep students safe and be thoughtful and objective listeners.”

The students at the meeting at the grocery store believe gun violence can be stemmed by adding regulations, but they’re aware they don’t represent all kids.

For Aria Bender, activism runs in the family – her mom helps lead a local Black Lives Matter group. Her school, Springfield High, has gone through numerous bomb threats in the past year or so. Bender said she wants to see more conversation and action around bullying because maybe that would mean fewer young people would ever lash out in violent ways in the first place. And she wants adults to take her and her peers seriously.

“I don’t want people to get the wrong idea – I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh they’re doing this to get out of class.’ I want them to see we’re doing this with a purpose, but I don’t want adults to use this as a way to punish us,” said Bender.

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