Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Wednesday, 3/27/19. We discussed a wide range of ongoing topics including District student admission policies, member attendance at District-wide staff development days, elementary assessment, long-term independent study, coaching stipends, providing work for suspended students, and medical benefits for retirees not yet receiving benefits from STRS. It was a productive session.
The District began the session by following up on CUTA’s question about District policy regarding the entry of new students into a class. They confirmed their initial thoughts from our last session. By law, homeless students must be enrolled and admitted to class “on the spot.” For all other students, the District policy is to encourage parents to bring their child to school on the day following enrollment so that the teacher can be notified and given advance warning. However, in the event that parents insist that their child be enrolled immediately, the District will grant the parent request. In the vast majority of cases, teachers will receive advance notice of a new student being enrolled in their class.
We then looked at data on member attendance at the District-wide staff development day (DWSD) on January 15. Contractually, members are docked ¼ day if they don’t attend a DWSD, provided they aren’t sick or excused by their administrator. The District was relatively pleased by the data, which showed an attendance rate of approximately 90%. In the event that a member shows habitual non-attendance at DWSDs, an administrator may have a conversation with that member.
For our next topic, we returned to elementary assessment. We have been encouraging the District to find a way to minimize the impact of elementary assessment on classroom instruction, and it has been a challenge, since many teachers have indicated that they value the majority of the existing assessments. In fact, nearly 80 of our TK-2 teachers responded to a survey (out of 125 total TK-2 teachers). Even the three least popular assessments were supported by over 60% of the respondents. The District and elementary DLC have worked hard on this. They are going to eliminate the requirement for the 3rd math I-Ready diagnostic and they are going to make CBMs no longer mandatory.
In addition, the District and the elementary DLC are in the process of designing a reading assessment continuum which, in theory, should reduce the overall number of assessments needed to be administered. Basically, students would take reading assessments in order of complexity until they demonstrated mastery on each assessment, and at that point, teachers would no longer be responsible for re-administering a mastered assessment to that child. Currently, students have to continue to be assessed during testing windows on assessments they have already mastered. This would eliminate the need for mandatory baseline assessment every year, and it would allow teachers to assess the students at their appropriate level, rather than having to deliver every assessment to every student during every testing window. The District is confident that they can provide clear data sheets showing where each student is to make organization more manageable. A plan like this could mean that an intermediate teacher might find themselves responsible for administering a test they are unfamiliar with, but the District feels confident that by eliminating CBMs, sites will free up more support for intermediate teachers who need help administering unfamiliar assessments. This conceptual plan is not complete, but the District and elementary DLC will continue to work on it in the hopes that it will serve our students better and make assessment more manageable for elementary teachers. At some point, elementary members will see presentations about this idea from DLC members.
We are still working out the details of the long term independent study programs offered by the District. Currently, caseloads for these programs are governed by MOUs, which we need to adjust and re-negotiate annually. We have continued to gather information from our members teaching in these programs, and our discussions with the District are ongoing.
On another front, the District is willing in principle to add a stipended coaching position for girls wrestling. In theory, it would fall under category 3 of head varsity coaching stipends. Although the District is avoiding adding any new costs at this time, they recognize the growth of this sport at Chico High, and they also don’t want to run afoul of Title IX. They are going to explore the situation further, but they are responding positively to this idea.
Our last major topic of discussion revolved around how and when teachers provide work to suspended students. With the Board policy changing from teachers “may” provide work to suspended students to teachers “shall” provide work to suspended students, we have been working on a way to make this work for students and teachers. The District plans to propose to the School Board a similar concept to what we have discussed in negotiations. In this policy proposal, teachers have two choices. The teacher may provide the student the work at the time of the suspension and expect the work when the student returns, or the teacher may choose not to provide work and the school will provide packet work. In the latter case, the teacher cannot hold the suspended student responsible for assignments missed while on suspension because the teacher declined to provide the work. However, the teacher may require the suspended student to take any assessments that he or she missed upon return from suspension. As the District works through the challenges of allowing Chromebook access at ISS, it should be easier for teachers to provide students work.
If you’d like to look over our contract, you can find it here.
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
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Mary Schoenthaler serves as Vice President and Public Relations Chair for CUTA.