Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations last Thursday, December 12. We continued our discussions about special education, we began preliminary discussions about compensation, and we explored other ongoing topics.
The District will share their concept for restructuring the secondary RSP and SDC (mild/moderate) programs at a voluntary meeting on Wednesday, January 15, during collaboration time. All secondary RSP and SDC (mild/moderate) teachers are welcome. Many secondary RSP and SDC (mild/moderate) teachers have already planned to attend. Please contact Karen Olson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the exact time and location of the meeting if you’d like to attend. The District plans to hold more voluntary meetings to share their ideas.
CUTA and the District are also working to find ways to provide support to elementary special education teachers. Elementary RSP teachers are considered 60% RSP teachers and 40% intervention teachers. If an elementary RSP teacher’s caseload goes over 16 (60% of the Ed code-mandated caseload of 28), then his or her intervention duties should be reduced, according to the District. The District monitors these numbers, and they identified four sites where the RSP teacher caseloads were high from early on in the school year. The District is moving to provide additional aide support at these sites to provide relief for these teachers. The sites are Shasta, Chapman, Marigold and Rosedale. We appreciate the District’s efforts to help these teachers. We will continue our discussions to find ways to help elementary RSP and SDC teachers.
Kevin Bultema came to negotiations and shared the District’s first interim budget for the 2020-2021 school year. By necessity it is a very conservative document. The governor’s proposed budget doesn’t come out until January, so the District has to be conservative with its projections. At this time, there is a deficit to deal with in Chico Unified. In general, the District has three priorities it looks to meet: deficit reduction, compensation and programs. Over the last three years, the District made employee compensation its top priority, for which we are grateful, and we recognize the importance of dealing with deficit reduction. It is possible that the CUSD budget will look much better after the governor’s proposal in January.
One of the interesting things that came up in this discussion is that the District faces increasing costs annually just to maintain existing programs. They plan to do an analysis of these increasing costs. Oftentimes, as members, we feel like the District is spending all of its money to continually add new programs instead of providing increased compensation. That certainly has not been true over the last three years of generous wage increases, and it really may be more perception than reality overall, when you consider that 90% of the CUSD budget goes to employee compensation for all employee groups.
Both CUTA and the District share an interest in multi-year wage agreements. We both feel that our current wage agreement has created a peaceful and positive school district, where employees feel valued and the District can plan its budget accurately. We will continue this discussion when we have more detailed information from the state.
The District also calculated the cost to complete the final restructuring of the salary schedule. Currently, our salary schedule, starting in year 19, has two steps where salary is frozen for three years, two more steps where salary is frozen for two years, and three single-year steps: years 29, 30, and 31. We would like to see the salary schedule top out at year 30, with year 19 being a single-year step, and years 20-21, 22-23, 24-25, 26-27, and 28-29 being two-year steps. This would be handled in a way that members can only benefit from, and we would not be removing the highest step on the salary schedule; you would simply reach the highest step in 30 years instead of 31 years. We began this process several years ago, and we want to consider finishing this restructuring based on the cost projections we get from the District. This benefits everybody. Newer teachers will be able to reach the top faster and retire sooner. Veteran teachers get the same benefit.
The cost to complete this restructuring is around $800,000, which is close to the cost of 1% on the salary schedule. This is another option CUTA is exploring with the District for the 2020-2021 school year.
As stated in the last update, the District has shared an interest in modifying the current practice for voluntary transfers. As it stands, the District has to fly job openings internally first, and they have to consider all internal applicants before flying the job opening externally on EdJoin. They would prefer to be able to fly the open positions internally and externally at the same time.
The District has proposed that CUSD Human Resources be allowed to fly positions internally and externally concurrently, and the external applicant pool would not be shared with administrators until all internal candidates have been considered. The District’s concern with the current practice is that it delays their ability to field a pool of strong external candidates because they have to wait until all internal candidates have been considered.
CUTA has proposed strengthening the internal application process in two ways: the District will guarantee an interview with each internal candidate, and the District will guarantee written notice if the internal applicant is denied within a defined time period. If the District fails to follow the process, the member will receive a payment in recourse, perhaps $250. If the District agrees to this stronger language, CUTA would agree to allow them to fly positions internally and externally at the same time, and internal candidates would still need to be interviewed and considered before the external applicant pool can be viewed by administrators. If we move forward, it would be as a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that has to be renewed annually and can be terminated by either party at any time.
Innovative Scheduling at the High Schools
John Shepherd reviewed the proposed timeline which appears below with updated information. E-Board has decided on a ⅔ majority vote for step
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed. Have a great holiday break! We have earned it.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Wednesday, November 20. We continued our long term discussion about the special education program, as well as discussing several other issues.
The District has ideas for how to reorganize special education at the secondary level, and they are going to begin to hold voluntary meetings with secondary RSP and SDC teachers to share their vision. CUTA will wait to receive feedback from our RSP and SDC members before beginning any negotiating. In addition, we will need to begin more meaningful discussions on ways to support our elementary RSP and SDC teachers as well. The discussion is ongoing.
On another topic concerning special education, the District is preparing to absorb the occupational therapists from BCOE. These occupational therapists (OTs) would be CUTA members. The existing BCOE salary schedule for OTs is only six steps, and it starts out much higher than the CUTA salary schedule, but it also ends much lower. The District is concerned that they will be unable to hire new OTs when needed with the lower starting pay, but CUTA is not interested in having a separate salary schedule for any of our members. We would welcome OTs as CUTA members, but they would have to be placed on our salary schedule. Although the starting pay might be lower, the OTs would end up in a much better position later in their careers and during retirement using our salary schedule.
We asked again if the District was interested in providing 1.5 prep days for elementary assessment to TK-5 teachers. Although this was brought to the table initially by the District, they are not ready to make any budgetary commitments at this point in the year.
We agreed on an MOU to expand the number of stipends for lead teachers of CTE pathways. If a teacher completes the requirements for one of these pathways, he or she will be eligible for the stipend. Currently, the stipends have been limited to three per secondary site, but more than three teachers per site were completing the requirements. The MOU goes into effect this year, and we will add it to the next tentative agreement (TA) to be voted on by CUTA membership.
Repeated Information from Last Update
We moved on to how the District handles differential pay for a member who misses work and has no sick leave. If a member is out sick and has no sick leave remaining, the District pays the member his or her daily rate minus the cost for the substitute teacher ($120/day). If the sick leave is long-term, the sub is getting paid at the long-term sub rate ($150/day). CUTA would like to standardize when a member is charged the long-term rate versus the short-term rate. CUTA has proposed that for the first ten days after the member's sick leave is exhausted, the District will deduct the short-term rate. Days eleven and beyond would be deducted at the long-term sub rate. This ensures that a member who has accumulated sick leave won’t be penalized.
For instance, member 1 has 20 sick days saved up. Member 1 goes on a long term sick leave and runs out of sick leave after 20 days. Since the sub has already been in the classroom for twenty days and is receiving long-term sub pay, under our current practice that member would immediately start having $150/day deducted from his or her daily rate. Member 2 has no sick leave saved up and goes on a long-term sick leave. Under our current practice, the first ten days would be deducted at $120/day and day eleven and onward would be deducted at the long-term sub rate. This seems to punish the member who had saved up sick leave. We’d like the practice to be the same for members in both situations. The District is considering our proposal. As an aside, differential pay like this occurs even if the District doesn’t need to use a sub or even if the “sub” ends up being a more costly temporary teacher.
Part of our three-year wage agreement with the District included a clause for how to share certain new dollars related to increased enrollment. If enrollment increased by more than 100 students, CUTA was entitled to 20% of all new dollars generated by all new students above 100. The enrollment increase still needs to be verified in January, but it appears that CUTA will get a small amount of money (approximately $35,000-$40,000) to apply to compensation. It will be too small to apply to wages in any meaningful way, so your bargaining team will be receiving direction from E-Board for possible areas to apply these dollars.
As we began early discussions for possible compensation for next year, your bargaining team shared with the District that we would happily continue the formula used for the last three years. The District has concerns about the strain these raises have put on their budget, so we will continue discussions at our December session, when the District will have their first interim budget in place to explore together.
The District is also running numbers for us to develop an estimated cost to complete the final restructuring of the salary schedule. Currently, our salary schedule, starting in year 19, has two steps where salary is frozen for three years, two more steps where salary is frozen for two years, and three single-year steps: years 29, 30, and 31. We would like to see the salary schedule top out at year 30, with year 19 being a single-year step, and years 20-21, 22-23, 24-25, 26-27, and 28-29 being two-year steps. This would be handled in a way that members can only benefit from, and we would not be removing the highest step on the salary schedule; you would simply reach the highest step in 30 years instead of 31 years. We began this process several years ago, and we want to consider finishing this restructuring based on the cost projections we get from the District. This benefits everybody. Newer teachers will be able to reach the top faster and retire sooner. Veteran teachers get the same benefit.
Innovative Scheduling at the High Schools
We continued to refine the timeline and process for the high schools’ innovative scheduling discussion. Some of this is still subject to E-Board’s decisions, and nothing is set in stone, but the general idea is as follows:
The District has shared an interest in modifying the current practice for voluntary transfers. As it stands, the District has to fly job openings internally first, and they have to consider all internal applicants before flying the job opening externally on EdJoin. They would prefer to be able to fly the open positions internally and externally at the same time. Under this proposal, CUSD Human Resources would not share the external applicants with administrators until all internal candidates have been considered. The District’s concern with the current practice is that it delays their ability to field a pool of strong external candidates because they have to wait until all internal candidates have been considered. Although CUTA understands the District’s position, we are troubled by the idea. The District already has complete control over hiring, and the contract language requiring consideration of internal candidates first was hard to get. We will continue to discuss this issue in negotiations.
Short Term Independent Study (IS) and Students on Medically Necessary Instruction (MNI)
Based on questions from members, the bargaining team asked for more clarity and consistency concerning teacher responsibilities when students go on short term IS and also when students go on MNI. These are two different situations, but both scenarios have undergone changes over the last several years. The procedures and expectations still seem too variable on a site-by-site basis. We will work to develop more uniformity across the District.
If you would like to see the current version of our contract, here is the link.
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.