We have continued negotiations with the District as we look towards next year. Our interest based bargaining process has allowed us to explore issues throughout the contract, and we have also opened Article 10: Leave for 2018-2019.
The first topic we covered on Thursday was return rights. We are exploring contract language that describes how long a member can be on different kinds of leave and still be entitled to return to the same position and assignment. For example, if a person went on medical leave for an entire school year, should they be entitled to their same position and assignment upon return? What if the leave bridged school years? We are gathering information now, and we will continue this discussion in two weeks.
We also spent time discussing the District practice of asking for volunteers and/or selecting members to attend elementary professional development during the school day. Teachers are expected to prepare half-day sub plans, and they may or may not have the choice of whether to attend or not. Since this is a relatively new practice, we have agreed to review this topic as issues arise.
We again brought up the issue of job sharing at elementary schools. Usually, members want to job share so that they can spend more time with their own children when their children are young. Unfortunately, the District does not want to award elementary job shares at this time. They feel that elementary job shares can result in an inferior educational product, and they have had numerous parents express the desire for their children to not be in a job share classroom. We are still searching for a model that would allay the District’s concerns, but we have not made progress.
In addition, we spent time discussing a potential new schedule for secondary RSP teachers at the high schools for next year. We don’t have all of the information yet, but it appears that the District will be removing the assessment/case management prep period from the schedule of secondary RSP teachers and instead asking them to teach in some capacity during that period. Diane Olsen will attend our May 10 negotiations session to explain the new scheduling. We are examining the issue, but until we have a firm grasp on what is being asked of the secondary RSP teachers, we don’t know whether this is a bargainable issue.
We also worked on a number of MOUs for 2018-2019, some of which are continuing on from this year. The MOUs include (but are not limited to):
Lastly, the District has been informed that the current donated sick leave practice is running afoul of IRS laws. Our lawyer has confirmed this, and we are going to have come up with a new approach. As of now, we don’t have a good idea for how to replace this program. This is potentially dangerous for members. If you were unable to work for an extended period of time and ran out of sick days, you would not be paid.
One option is to join the Standard, which is an income protection insurance program of which many of us are currently members. The next open enrollment for the Standard runs from September 1-30, and the District has agreed to extend the donated sick leave program until September 30, which would give members the time to join the Standard and get guaranteed income protection. We will have a lot of information coming out about this program. Please consider buying income protection from the Standard. It ranges from roughly $27-$45/month depending on your income level.
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.