Along with ratifying a two-year contract with Bellevue School District, the Bellevue Education Association also took a vote of no confidence against district Superintendent Amalia Cudeiro Wednesday.
The Bellevue Education Association voted 97 percent to ratify the new contract. That vote was followed by a 97 percent vote of no confidence against Cudeiro. The turnout was not immediately available.
The teachers union President Michele Miller said that the teachers wanted the school board to know that they did not have faith in Cudeiro's leadership, questioning her long-term commitment to the district.
"I hope what it does is allow the school board to listen to the professionals in this district," Miller said.
In response to both votes, Cudeiro said that she will continue to work with the teachers, staff and parents on the changes in the contract.
“I am pleased to hear our teachers have approved the contract agreement which allows us to start school on time. This contract contains a number of bold changes and change is often difficult. I understand this and will continue to work with teachers, staff and parents to listen to their ideas, thoughts and concerns as we move forward to implement the new changes in this contract. I believe these changes will benefit both students, as well as teachers,“ she said in a prepared statement.
Miller said the vote was directed at Cudeiro's continued involvement in Targeted Leadership Consulting, a firm that specializes in school-leadership training. Cudeiro, hired by the district in 2009, is a senior partner and co-founder of the company
Miller cited a 2010 interview of Cudeiro in the Seattle Times, in which said Cudeiro said she would make reforms in Bellevue before returning to her consulting firm.
"We want someone who is invested in Bellevue and invested in Bellevue for the long term," Miller said.
Miller said that even when contract negotiations led to a teachers strike three years ago, the teachers did not take a no confidence vote at that time.
The acting superintendent at that time was former finance director Karen Clark, according to news reports from 2008. Former longtime Superintendent Mike Riley, who had headed Bellevue for 11 years, had left the district the previous year, to take a job as vice president for college readiness at the College Board, though many of Riley's changes throughout the years led to the contention that led to the strike.
Agreement on key issues
Several issues that kept the district and the teachers apart were on the gradebook deadlines and the use of Early Release Wednesdays.
The gradebooks will be required to be updated every 15 school days, which is what the teachers had been hoping for.
The Early Release Wednesdays will be used for an agreed-upon combination of both class preparation, grading and parent meetings -- what it is used for now -- and for district- and school-organized training and planning. Elementary teachers will get a guaranteed 40 minutes of time during that Early Release Wednesday for planning and grading, Miller said.
"That was very important to the elementary school teachers," she said.