Burzette-Deleon says reduced prep time will have a negative impact

    A longtime Early Childhood Family Education and School Readiness staff member at Washington School fought back tears at Monday’s Crookston School Board meeting as she decried a new contract that she says has resulted with early childhood staff having their prep time cut.

    The school board and teacher’s union, the Crookston Education Association, recently reached agreement on a new, two-year contract, which was approved by the board and CEA.

    “We were told by the CEA to talk to the school board, and we were told by the school board to talk to the CEA,” Brigette Burzette-Deleon told the board during the open forum portion at the beginning of their meeting at CHS. “Who will stand up for us? No one.”

    After having the same amount of prep time allotted per hour since the mid-1990s, Burzette-Deleon noted, as part of the new contract with the CEA, the prep time is being reduced by eight minutes per hour. Prep time is precious to ECFE and School Readiness staffers because of all the things they have to prepare for, she added.

    “After 22 years, someone took issue with our prep time,” Burzette-Deleon said. “Our group of five is represented by the CEA to account for our best interests, but we are their last interest.”

    She said that ECFE and School Readiness are self-sustaining programs that are supported by their own revenue and get no money from the general fund. Burzette-Deleon added that early childhood staff don’t receive the benefit package that CEA members do. She said her mom passed away from breast cancer earlier this month and her dad has dementia, but that she was not paid for any of the work time she had to miss to be with her dying mother and then plan her funeral.

    Even with an Early Childhood Education degree program at the University of Minnesota Crookston, Burzette-Deleon noted that it is “nearly impossible” to find licensed staff willing to work the irregular hours required of early childhood staff in the district. And, she continued, ECFE and School Readiness staff are often the first experience and the first contact people for families introducing their young children to the local schools. “We work hard to be great ambassadors of the school and community,” she said. “These cuts will have a negative impact.”

    Even though, according to Burzette-Deleon, both the school board and CEA have told her that her concerns are a “non-issue,” she asked that something be done to rectify the situation.

    Board Chair Frank Fee thanked her for her comments.