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
Mary Schoenthaler serves as Vice President and Public Relations Chair for CUTA.