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