Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Thursday, January 17, and we discussed a wide range of issues.
We began the day by reviewing a table from the contract that lists the class sizes and caseloads for our special education teachers. The table is unclear in certain ways, and we are working to clarify the intent of the various columns. Currently, we are not trying to change class sizes or caseloads as described in the table. We are simply trying to make the table easier to understand. As we continue working on this issue, CUTA has an interest in agreeing on a maximum class size for RSP teachers, because that is not in the contract at this time. In addition, the table has a column listing class size ranges. The intent of this column is described in 7.6.1, which requires “appropriate additional support services” when a class size exceeds the listed range. We want to clarify what those supports entail.
Next, we checked in on the new task being required of some of our special education teachers related to the interim SBAC assessments. Some teachers are now required to manually enter SBAC testing accommodations, because the District is only uploading that information one time in September. Tim Cariss has sent out an invite to some special education teachers to try to develop a more efficient model for next year.
We then asked the District about short term independent study options in secondary schools. When students go on short term independent study, teachers are to be notified five days in advance. Teachers may assign their own classroom work and hold the students accountable upon return for that work, or teachers may assign a District-developed packet. If a teacher assigns the District packet, he or she must N/A his or her own classroom work for the student during the student’s absence. Teachers may even assign a combination of their own work and the District-developed work, and they can hold students accountable for the classroom work they assign. Currently, the packet work for high school has not been developed, but it is in the works. Packets for all classes in middle school, including electives, are available, and middle school administrators are being notified about its availability. If a teacher assigns packet work, he or she is required to score it, but that can be as simple as scoring it “credit/no credit”.
In addition, the District practice has been to only offer independent study for absences of 5-10 days. In other words, short term independent study cannot be assigned for four or fewer days or 11 or more days. However, the District discovered that EdCode allows for short term independent study to be assigned for up to 15 days, so the District is going to decide on a firm policy. They may extend the allowable short term independent study window up to 15 days.
We were able to decide on the broad strokes of preschool job descriptions with the input of the preschool teachers. There are a couple of details still to understand fully and add to the job descriptions, but we are largely complete.
The District had shared an interest in adding the parent-teacher conference minimum days waiver to the contract. We asked members at schools not using the waiver for their input, and they were not interested in changing their schedules and their parent-teacher conference model at this time. We shared their points of view with the District, and we will not be adding this waiver to the contract. Schools are welcome to continue using this waiver, and CUTA is happy to help any sites that are interested in exploring this waiver.
We spent a little time reviewing the timeline for developing contract language for the all-day K model, which is currently being practiced under an MOU. The MOU lays out the basic ingredients for the final contract language, and both CUTA and the District recognize the importance of getting this contract language right, so we will continue to examine what is working and what needs to be tweaked before writing the official contract language during this year and next. CUTA will be meeting with all-day K teachers to get their input on the current MOU.
We began, or restarted, a discussion about elementary assessment. Some of our elementary teachers, and especially our TK-3 primary teachers, have expressed concern about the quantity of assessment occurring. The District felt that they were getting adequate teacher input about assessment through the DLC model. CUTA asked for the DLC members to hold assessment feedback sessions during an upcoming staff meeting at their sites, and it will be important for members to share specific concerns about assessment that DLC members can take back to the District. In addition, the District is going to provide their estimate of how long each assessment should take, with the recognition that many assessments have widely variable lengths depending on student ability. CUTA will attempt to make the same calculations, and we will see how far apart our assumptions are. This will help guide future discussions.
Lastly, the District shared the results from their survey of high school teachers in regards to innovative scheduling at the high schools. The District, at the direction of the School Board, has been investigating teacher interest in a different high school schedule to benefit our students. The changes would be so substantial that the traditional waiver process would not be sufficient. The District has worked hard to enlist teachers to explore various options and share these options with their colleagues. After much work and discussion, the teachers voted 77% to 23% to continue the discussion.
We meet with the District again on Wednesday, January 30. We will be going through the formal process to open negotiations for next year. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to complete the one-question survey which can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7G73F68
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed. If you would like to look over our contract, you can click the following link: http://www.chicouta.org/contract.html
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Mary Schoenthaler serves as Vice President and Public Relations Chair for CUTA.