Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Thursday, May 10, to begin discussing issues for next year. We covered a wide range of issues, with most of the time being spent on the potential scheduling changes for RSP and SDC secondary teachers and on the finer points of the MOU for independent study programs at secondary sites.
Scheduling Changes for RSP/SDC Teachers
Last year, a group of secondary SDC teachers approached CUTA to share their concerns about the increasing challenges they faced in their job. CUTA and the District worked with the SDC secondary teachers to put together a list of challenges and possible solutions. Despite a lot of time and thought, we were unable to find solutions that appealed to the majority of the SDC teachers who were in contact with CUTA.
We felt stuck and unsure of how to proceed. The District, separate from CUTA input, decided that one solution would be to utilize current, existing resources available at the secondary level to mitigate the challenges faced by the SDC secondary teachers. One current, existing resource that the District identified was the assessment period, sometimes called the case management period, that is a part of RSP secondary teachers’ schedules. Secondary RSP teachers currently teach four classes, have a class prep period, and have an assessment/case management period. Secondary SDC teachers teach five classes and have a class prep period.
The District feels that the secondary RSP assessment/case management period is problematic in two ways:
The special education teams at PV and Chico High, and specifically the RSP and SDC teachers at those sites, were presented with the District’s concerns and asked to come up with a solution. Diane Olsen, Director of Student Services, came to the negotiations session on Thursday to share what has come thus far from this process. At this time, the teams at PV and Chico High are still working to come up with solutions that may or may not include sharing the assessment/case management periods between RSP and SDC teachers. There are a number of options being looked at, and Jim Hanlon emphasized that the District would much prefer a teacher-generated solution.
The assessment/case management period is not in our contract, but it has been District practice for as long as thirty years, so CUTA would have a case to argue that it represents past practice. We represent the interests of all of our members, and we don’t believe that solving a problem for one group of members at the expense of another group is the best option.
We are going to wait and see the results that the special education groups come up with at PV and Chico, and we will revisit this very important issue at our last negotiations session this year on May 31.
Independent Study MOU
Chico Unified has expanded its independent study options for our students in recent years, and we are currently operating under an MOU that dictates the caseloads for these programs. We have had the teachers working in these programs visit negotiations sessions to explore how the current caseloads are working. We have made adjustments to the caseloads for the traditional independent study program, and we are continuing to examine the caseloads for online independent study. We also heard from one of the teachers handling short term independent study for students at Bidwell and Marsh who miss 5-15 days during the school year. We plan to finalize an MOU for 2018-2019 at the final negotiations session.
All-day K MOU--65 minute prep sessions
We shared concerns we had with the District about how the 10 half-sessions (65 minutes each) would be delivered at all-day K sites. Some K teachers were alarmed, because they were under the impression that these sessions might be increased in number but halved in length to 30 or 35 minutes. The District assured us that unless K teachers at specific sites asked for this change, the 10 half-sessions would be delivered by prep time specialists in 65 minutes periods.
We explored adding language to the contract relating to Assembly Bill 119, which entitles CUTA to a variety of information about our members and specifies timelines for when and in what format this information will be delivered. AB 119 also gives CUTA the right to attend all new employee onboarding meetings. We are exploring what this would look like with the District.
Language covering CUTA members at charter schools
As a future topic for discussion, we shared our concern that our members employed at charter schools--for instance speech therapists and RSP teachers whose time is purchased from CUSD by charter schools--don’t appear to have the same contractual protections at those sites. This is a complicated issue which we will be looking at further in 2018-2019.
We also spent more time discussing return rights for members who go out on leave. Specifically, we are negotiating whether or not a member has a right to return to their site and/or exact position after a leave of absence. There are various types of leave, and we need to identify which leaves have return rights and which do not, if any. We also need to determine how the length of leave impacts return rights.
Thank you for support during a very positive year of negotiations. We will continue to keep you up to date with the progress of future negotiations.
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Mary Schoenthaler serves as Vice President and Public Relations Chair for CUTA.