Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Wednesday, September 26. We discussed a number of issues, and both teams continue to work together in a very respectful, transparent and productive way.
We first worked on modifying contract language related to how CUTA is able to provide release time for members who are conducting union work. The existing contract language was unclear, and the District wants to make sure that it is following any applicable laws relating to STRS. We cleaned up the language and clarified the amount of release time that is allowed and who is responsible for paying for different expenses related to the release time. We are very close to an agreement on this issue.
We also came to an agreement on an MOU that will allow the District to help our new teachers who are going through the BTSA induction program at BCOE. We had already negotiated contract language in the past in which the District would reimburse new teachers up to $3,000 for BTSA induction programs. This new MOU expands how the District can help our new teachers. BTSA is now a two-year program again, and the BCOE BTSA program is $6,000 total ($3,000 each year). It is a serious hardship for young teachers to come up with $3,000 at the start of the school year for two years in a row. The District worked out an agreement with BCOE in which the District pays BCOE $1,500 at the start of each year, and the new teacher is responsible for the remaining fee in monthly payments, which are much more manageable. This is an example of the District coming up with a way to help our members, and we appreciate it very much. This is available this year to new teachers. Contact the District office to find out the details.
We then moved on to discussing a potential MOU that would allow the high schools to continue to use a modified schedule during SBAC testing and both finals weeks. We are still getting all the details worked out, but the impression we have from the high schools is that our members want to be able to use a modified schedule during these times, and this MOU would allow it to happen without violating our contract.
The bulk of our morning and afternoon was spent discussing concerns raised by counselors about the 504 process. Based on the information we had gathered in advance from counselors, it appears that the concerns are mainly with how the 504 process works at the secondary level. CUTA provided the District with a list of very specific concerns, and we had a healthy discussion about the 504 process. We reviewed the District-mandated process for 504s from start to finish, and we examined some of the forms in use. The District is preparing a response to the concerns which will be designed to clarify certain parts of the process and also to alleviate some of the concerns expressed by the counselors. CUTA will work with the District on this response, and we will share it when we have it completed. The District emphasized that it does not want counselors to be fearful or to feel alone in the 504 process. We will provide more information soon.
Diane Olsen will be attending at a future date to discuss RSP caseloads and other issues relating to special education.
John Bohannon will be attending at future date before he moves to his new position in Oroville to discuss how our members that are assigned to charter schools can have their contractual rights protected.
Kevin Bultema will be attending a future session to discuss the current status of the MAA program. The District owes a large back payment to MAA, and until that is settled, we are in limbo. We may modify our current contract language to reflect the new reality of the program. Both sides have ideas about how we could most effectively utilize this program in the future.
Lastly, we spent time examining the current language related to return rights in the contract. CUTA has an interest in allowing members who go on leave to return to the same site they went on leave from, but depending on the length of the leave, the District has an interest in not disrupting the site climate. Currently, members have the right to return to their site after maternity leave up to 130 days. CUTA is interested in expanding this right to other types of leaves. Military leave is an exception, because it is governed by other laws.
In case you want to learn more about our contract, the link to our contract at the CUTA website is 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.