I hope you’re enjoying your holidays and are getting a little time away to relax and recharge. You all deserve it and there’s nothing more important than maintaining your health and general wellbeing.
2022 may be starting off under less than ideal circumstances, but looking through the smoke of the dumpster fire I can see growth and opportunity forming on the other side. Our struggles over the past 21 months of “unprecedented times” have been a catalyst for some really exciting bigger picture thinking and progress that we may not have encountered during the business-as-usual days before it all hit the fan.
It was the efforts and ingenuity of the NUMA workforce that made it possible for students to return to learning in a proper classroom in as safe a way as possible. Every change in guidance and direction was figured out and implemented, even as new programs and initiatives started piling work on top of work you were the ones who figured it out and got it done. This is not something which has gone unnoticed at any level.
Nor have your struggles gone unnoticed. A couple of weeks ago, Superintendent Dan Bridges met with some our Building Representatives for a remarkably open and frank discussion on the state of things and where we go from here. He remarked that in his visits to the buildings, he had the opportunity to speak with many of you and heard a recurring, if not universal, theme: Appreciation and Compensation.
Mr. Bridges expressed that while He and his administrative team do have a deep and abiding appreciation for the work we’ve all done, he understands that just expressing this in words is not adequate. He recognized that the district has to do more to support NUMA so that we can continue to properly support the mission of The District. To this end, He has advocated for approval of proposals written by B&G Director Pat Dolan to create new positions which will relieve some of the burden of the increasing workload without sacrificing our opportunities for Overtime. This is a start, but even more than that it is an expression of recognition for the essential work that we do and the need to focus proper resources so that we can get the work done without sacrificing ourselves in the process.
Superintendent Bridges also expressed something that hasn’t been expressed at that level in far too long, that having long term employees in our ranks is a vital component to the District’s success. He discussed his desire to see people who come to work for us stay with us through retirement with growth and advancement opportunities along the way. This is the core focus of our vision for the future of the NUMA workforce and it was refreshing and exciting to hear it articulated independently by the man who is tasked with setting the tone and drawing the road map for the District’s future.
I mention this because we are at a unique point right now, with all of these issues coalescing as we prepare for the process of bargaining our next contract. I feel it’s particularly important to keep sight of the immediate future while dealing with the present and plotting a course for the years to come. We have made what I consider a rock solid case over the last 21 months in particular, for the importance of maintaining our workforce in a professional way with a focus on recruiting and retaining our employees with attractive, competitive compensation and benefits, but also with a culture of respect, growth and opportunity.
We’ve demonstrated our value day in and day out, and even with the support and appreciation we’ve received we can’t coast to the finish line before we’ve even left the starting block. We all need to do what we can to get through the rough spots, especially right now with the skyrocketing rate of COVID transmission with the introduction of the Omicron Variant. Stay vigilant with masking and social distancing, stay healthy. If you feel sick, stay home, get tested and isolate responsibly.
Here’s to facing the New Year with optimism, going forward with purpose and building a better tomorrow for us all. More than that though… Here’s to all of you, NUMA. I am always proud to have the opportunity and privilege of serving and representing you.