Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Wednesday, October 24. It was a very productive session that highlighted again the positive, transparent and cooperative partnership that CUTA and the District have forged over the last several years. We reached agreement on several issues, and we continued to work on other issues with mutual interest.
The District would like to add the class size MOU into the contract. This is the MOU that drops secondary class size to 38 and allows secondary teachers to voluntarily increase their caseload from 175 up to 180. For each increase of one in caseload, the teacher is paid $500 per semester, up to $2500 for a caseload of 180, per semester. In elementary school, the District is already able to go over the class size of 33 by one to 34 in 30% of classrooms. This is not voluntary on the teacher’s part, but the MOU pays these teachers $500 per semester if they are selected to go to 34 students. We will create contract language for you to vote on in the next tentative agreement (TA).
Next we put together an MOU for special education teachers at Inspire, because the schedule at Inspire does not match our contract. The MOU also codifies the District practice of giving CUSD employees at Inspire the right to transfer to an open special education position in Chico Unified after two years of service at Inspire. This is another example of the District treating our members well.
We moved on to continuing the discussion about the assigning of work to students who have been suspended. Education Code says teachers may assign work to students who have been suspended, but local School Boards can expand student rights, and our School Board is planning to change that may to shall. Our discussions on this topic are not over, but one option would be to give teachers two choices. A teacher could either provide work for the student at the start of the suspension, and the work would be due upon return, or a teacher could allow the same number of days as the suspension length for the student to make up the work upon return. For example, if a student was suspended for 5 days, they would have five days after returning to make up missing work. We also said it would be very useful if suspended students could use their Chromebooks while suspended, because many teachers provide assignments through Google Classroom. We had some reports that students on in-school suspension were not allowed to use their Chromebooks, and the District agreed to look into that.
The District then shared the responses they had crafted in response to concerns expressed by counselors about the 504 process. We read through the District responses and suggested some additions. That document will be shared soon with counselors, and then we can continue to work towards helping our counselors feel more comfortable with 504s, which can be very challenging to develop and organize.
We then turned our discussions to the MAA program. The District has a large payback to make to the MAA program, but at some point MAA payments to the District may return. We are exploring ways in which the program may change. Currently, very few CUTA members are eligible to complete the MAA surveys which generate money for the District. These members include special education teachers, counselors, speech therapists and nurses. One option would be to share the CUTA portion of future MAA funding with the eligible members’ departments to spend on extras to supplement those departments’ needs. The exact structure of such an arrangement is still under discussion, but the District agrees with it in principle. We will continue these discussions.
Next we moved on to a new task that special education teachers are facing due to the District’s desire for students to take interim math and ELA SBAC tests. Many special education students receive accommodations on the SBAC test, and the SBAC testing system communicates with the special education recording system to apply these accommodations listed on special education students’ IEPs. In the past, the District passed the data in early spring so that the most up to date IEP information was shared with the SBAC testing system. Now, with students taking interim SBAC tests, the District passed the data from the special education recording system to the SBAC testing system in the early fall. Any new accommodations from IEP meetings held between September and April will need to be entered by hand by the special education teachers. Tim Cariss will be attending a future negotiations session to explain the process. We hope to figure out a way to minimize the impact on special education teachers.
Lastly, we continued our negotiations on leave and return rights for members. We began this discussion last spring. Current contract language grants members the right to return to the same site if they go on maternity or child care leave (or any succession of the two) for 130 days or less. The District has agreed to expand this contractual return rights language to all leaves available in the contract, subject to all other contractual components of these leaves. Our leave policies are in Article 10. This is another example of the District listening to CUTA’s concerns and acting in good faith. We appreciate the clarity that this expansion of leave rights means for our members. Now members will have the right to return to their site for all leaves lasting up to 130 days, subject to your approval in our next TA.
Lastly, we will be going through our entire interest based bargaining process to work on the District practice of placing SDC students in RSP classes at the secondary level. Diane Olsen will attend our session on November 8, and we appreciate her joining the teams to work through this issue.
Here is the link to our current contract: http://www.chicouta.org/contract.html
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, October 11, to continue our ongoing discussions of a number of different topics in Chico Unified.
John Bohannon joined us to discuss how we can protect our members who provide special education services at charter schools. As part of the laws governing charter schools, the District to provide special education services if charter schools request them. We do charge the charter schools for these services, but our members are working on sites where they may not receive all the benefits of our contract. John explained the process for our members to get help if they have a problem, contractual or otherwise, at a charter school. Although CUSD is not “in charge” of any charter schools, they can mediate and solve problems for members at these sites, so for many problems, our members can go directly to Diane Olsen or John (or his replacement). For problems related to unprofessional conduct of a charter director/principal, our members can file a complaint directly with the School Board. Our members take these positions voluntarily, and the District’s current practice is to allow them to transfer to a CUSD position that becomes available. We are considering writing contract language that states that practice, but we will experiment with an MOU first. CUSD is only providing special education services to three charter schools, and these three may elect to forgo our services. If they do, we do not have to provide services for them anymore, which would solve the problem.
We then spent time crafting an MOU that will allow the high schools to continue to use a modified schedule for finals week and also allows for a two-week modified schedule for SBAC testing without violating the contract. Both the schedule for finals and the schedule for SBAC testing would be subject to a simple majority vote at each high school. Middle school is included in this MOU but are not currently using modified schedules. The MOU will go to E-Board for approval.
We moved on to finalizing an MOU that will allow the District to help our new teachers by paying half of the up-front cost of the BCOE BTSA induction program. The District still pays our new teachers a total of $3,000 for BTSA. This MOU simply shifts the payment to help new teachers faced with large up-front costs. We are exploring how units for salary schedule progression would be awarded for completing BTSA. The District feels that new teachers should receive 12 units of District-approved units for salary schedule progression, but these units would not “travel” outside the District if the teacher went to teach elsewhere. There may be a way for new teachers to buy these units so they would be durable. We are also looking into how mentor teachers could earn units. Mentor teachers are paid a stipend of $1,800 per year, so we will examine how that may impact receiving units.
Our next topic involved the assigning of work to students who have been suspended. Education Code says teachers may assign work to students who have been suspended, but local School Boards can expand student rights, and our School Board is planning to change that may to shall. Our discussions on this topic are not over, but one option would be to give teachers two choices. A teacher could either provide work for the student at the start of the suspension, and the work would be due upon return, or a teacher could allow the same number of days as the suspension length for the student to make up the work upon return. For example, if a student was suspended for 5 days, they would have five days after returning to make up missing work. We also said it would be very useful if suspended students could use their Chromebooks while suspended, because many teachers provide assignments through Google Classroom. We had some reports that students on in-school suspension were not allowed to use their Chromebooks, and the District agreed to look into that.
Diane Olsen joined us in the afternoon to discuss concerns counselors have expressed about the 504 process. The District is crafting a response to the counselors’ concerns, which we will be sharing with affected members. The District stressed repeatedly that they do not want counselors to feel alone or unsupported during the 504 process. They also emphasized that it was the job of administrators to make sure that implementation of 504s is happening appropriately in classrooms. In addition, Diane shared that the District is looking into a different platform to use for the online forms that will hopefully streamline and improve the functionality of filling out the extensive paperwork. More information will be forthcoming.
CUTA and CUSD then agreed to go through the full interest based bargaining process to address the practice of placing SDC students into RSP teachers’ classes. We have a disagreement about the implication of this practice for RSP caseloads, and we both feel that we need to use our IBB training to work towards a resolution. This process is scheduled for November 8.
Finally, we spent time discussing the future of the MAA program and how it might work in our district. Because there are so few members eligible for participating in the MAA program, CUTA suggested that eligible member groups (RSP, SDC, speech therapists, nurses, among others), receive a proportional part of future MAA funds to spend on needs within their member group. The District is looking into the feasibility of our suggestion. To be clear, there are no MAA dollars for distribution currently. The District has back payments they need to make to MAA before any of the above could occur.
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed. Below is a link to our contract if you would like to learn more.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Mary Schoenthaler serves as Vice President and Public Relations Chair for CUTA.