Your bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Wednesday, January 30. We continued negotiations on a variety of topics that carried over from our last session.
We started off the morning by discussing ways to clarify Table 7.6.1, found at the end of Article 7, which describes class sizes and caseloads in special education. CUTA and the District share an interest in making changes to this table to reflect the realities of the existing programs in Chico Unified. In addition, we both want special education teachers to understand the mechanisms and situations in which additional help will be provided to special education classrooms as suggested by current language in the contract. The contract lists special education class size ranges that, when exceeded, can trigger additional support. Diane Olsen joined the negotiating teams on Wednesday and shared the process by which additional help for individual students can be requested, evaluated and provided if necessary as decided by the special education team assigned to the given student. She believes that we can adapt this process to be used in situations when the number of students (class size) may necessitate additional support. She also provided two reorganized tables that reflected the reality of current CUSD special education programs and could possibly replace the existing Table 7.6.1. Both teams appreciated her work on this issue, and we will continue to negotiate.
CUTA also has an interest in settling on a class size for RSP teachers. This is currently undefined in the contract. EdCode sets an RSP teacher’s caseload at 28 students, but there is no language about class size. There was some discussion about potentially creating a class size and total daily student contact for RSP teachers, but no hard numbers were officially discussed or proposed.
We moved on to short term independent study, and the District shared that their policy will be that short-term independent study can be assigned for absences that last five days or more or ten days or less. In special circumstances, the District can assign short-term independent study for up to 15 days, but any short-term independent study lasting 11 days or more will need to be approved at the District, not site, level. The District will be sharing this information with their administrators.
Teachers have the option to assign their own classroom work to students and hold students accountable for that work when they return. Teachers also may choose to assign generic packet work, which is currently available for elementary school and middle school, but if teachers choose to assign packet work, they may not hold students accountable for missed classroom work. Teachers must also “assess” packet work upon a student’s return, but it can be at the simple level of “credit/no credit.” High school packet work is in the process of being designed. Teachers could also assign some of their own classroom work and some packet work.
Next, we briefly reviewed changes to the new preschool job descriptions. We agreed on the changes and approved the job descriptions.
Tim Cariss joined us in the afternoon to share the results of his meeting with several representatives from special education. They met to discuss ways to improve the process for uploading changes to student testing accommodations for the SBAC tests. All involved in the meeting agreed that there was no perfect solution, but they settled on special education teachers printing out the page of the IEP document that lists accommodations and providing that to their SBAC site coordinators.
We spent a good portion of the afternoon discussing member concerns with the quantity of assessments at elementary, and most specifically in grades TK-2. The District does a lot of the selection and deletion of assessments through the DLC. CUTA suggested that it might be possible to solicit more direct input from elementary teachers, even though the DLC is made up of teachers. The District has agreed to ask its DLC members to ask for specific feedback on the quantity of assessment at a future staff meeting. CUTA is considering surveying impacted members about specific assessments to move this discussion forward.
Lastly, we want to check in with kindergarten teachers who are teaching all-day K to assess how the MOU is functioning this year. We want to iron out any issues before we begin to write permanent contract language. We are trying to schedule this meeting for a district wide staff development day. We will share more information as it becomes available.
If you’d like to look at the contract, the link is here.
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Thursday, January 17, and we discussed a wide range of issues.
We began the day by reviewing a table from the contract that lists the class sizes and caseloads for our special education teachers. The table is unclear in certain ways, and we are working to clarify the intent of the various columns. Currently, we are not trying to change class sizes or caseloads as described in the table. We are simply trying to make the table easier to understand. As we continue working on this issue, CUTA has an interest in agreeing on a maximum class size for RSP teachers, because that is not in the contract at this time. In addition, the table has a column listing class size ranges. The intent of this column is described in 7.6.1, which requires “appropriate additional support services” when a class size exceeds the listed range. We want to clarify what those supports entail.
Next, we checked in on the new task being required of some of our special education teachers related to the interim SBAC assessments. Some teachers are now required to manually enter SBAC testing accommodations, because the District is only uploading that information one time in September. Tim Cariss has sent out an invite to some special education teachers to try to develop a more efficient model for next year.
We then asked the District about short term independent study options in secondary schools. When students go on short term independent study, teachers are to be notified five days in advance. Teachers may assign their own classroom work and hold the students accountable upon return for that work, or teachers may assign a District-developed packet. If a teacher assigns the District packet, he or she must N/A his or her own classroom work for the student during the student’s absence. Teachers may even assign a combination of their own work and the District-developed work, and they can hold students accountable for the classroom work they assign. Currently, the packet work for high school has not been developed, but it is in the works. Packets for all classes in middle school, including electives, are available, and middle school administrators are being notified about its availability. If a teacher assigns packet work, he or she is required to score it, but that can be as simple as scoring it “credit/no credit”.
In addition, the District practice has been to only offer independent study for absences of 5-10 days. In other words, short term independent study cannot be assigned for four or fewer days or 11 or more days. However, the District discovered that EdCode allows for short term independent study to be assigned for up to 15 days, so the District is going to decide on a firm policy. They may extend the allowable short term independent study window up to 15 days.
We were able to decide on the broad strokes of preschool job descriptions with the input of the preschool teachers. There are a couple of details still to understand fully and add to the job descriptions, but we are largely complete.
The District had shared an interest in adding the parent-teacher conference minimum days waiver to the contract. We asked members at schools not using the waiver for their input, and they were not interested in changing their schedules and their parent-teacher conference model at this time. We shared their points of view with the District, and we will not be adding this waiver to the contract. Schools are welcome to continue using this waiver, and CUTA is happy to help any sites that are interested in exploring this waiver.
We spent a little time reviewing the timeline for developing contract language for the all-day K model, which is currently being practiced under an MOU. The MOU lays out the basic ingredients for the final contract language, and both CUTA and the District recognize the importance of getting this contract language right, so we will continue to examine what is working and what needs to be tweaked before writing the official contract language during this year and next. CUTA will be meeting with all-day K teachers to get their input on the current MOU.
We began, or restarted, a discussion about elementary assessment. Some of our elementary teachers, and especially our TK-3 primary teachers, have expressed concern about the quantity of assessment occurring. The District felt that they were getting adequate teacher input about assessment through the DLC model. CUTA asked for the DLC members to hold assessment feedback sessions during an upcoming staff meeting at their sites, and it will be important for members to share specific concerns about assessment that DLC members can take back to the District. In addition, the District is going to provide their estimate of how long each assessment should take, with the recognition that many assessments have widely variable lengths depending on student ability. CUTA will attempt to make the same calculations, and we will see how far apart our assumptions are. This will help guide future discussions.
Lastly, the District shared the results from their survey of high school teachers in regards to innovative scheduling at the high schools. The District, at the direction of the School Board, has been investigating teacher interest in a different high school schedule to benefit our students. The changes would be so substantial that the traditional waiver process would not be sufficient. The District has worked hard to enlist teachers to explore various options and share these options with their colleagues. After much work and discussion, the teachers voted 77% to 23% to continue the discussion.
We meet with the District again on Wednesday, January 30. We will be going through the formal process to open negotiations for next year. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to complete the one-question survey which can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7G73F68
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed. If you would like to look over our contract, you can click the following link: http://www.chicouta.org/contract.html
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Mary Schoenthaler serves as Vice President and Public Relations Chair for CUTA.