Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations last Thursday, December 12. We continued our discussions about special education, we began preliminary discussions about compensation, and we explored other ongoing topics.
The District will share their concept for restructuring the secondary RSP and SDC (mild/moderate) programs at a voluntary meeting on Wednesday, January 15, during collaboration time. All secondary RSP and SDC (mild/moderate) teachers are welcome. Many secondary RSP and SDC (mild/moderate) teachers have already planned to attend. Please contact Karen Olson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the exact time and location of the meeting if you’d like to attend. The District plans to hold more voluntary meetings to share their ideas.
CUTA and the District are also working to find ways to provide support to elementary special education teachers. Elementary RSP teachers are considered 60% RSP teachers and 40% intervention teachers. If an elementary RSP teacher’s caseload goes over 16 (60% of the Ed code-mandated caseload of 28), then his or her intervention duties should be reduced, according to the District. The District monitors these numbers, and they identified four sites where the RSP teacher caseloads were high from early on in the school year. The District is moving to provide additional aide support at these sites to provide relief for these teachers. The sites are Shasta, Chapman, Marigold and Rosedale. We appreciate the District’s efforts to help these teachers. We will continue our discussions to find ways to help elementary RSP and SDC teachers.
Kevin Bultema came to negotiations and shared the District’s first interim budget for the 2020-2021 school year. By necessity it is a very conservative document. The governor’s proposed budget doesn’t come out until January, so the District has to be conservative with its projections. At this time, there is a deficit to deal with in Chico Unified. In general, the District has three priorities it looks to meet: deficit reduction, compensation and programs. Over the last three years, the District made employee compensation its top priority, for which we are grateful, and we recognize the importance of dealing with deficit reduction. It is possible that the CUSD budget will look much better after the governor’s proposal in January.
One of the interesting things that came up in this discussion is that the District faces increasing costs annually just to maintain existing programs. They plan to do an analysis of these increasing costs. Oftentimes, as members, we feel like the District is spending all of its money to continually add new programs instead of providing increased compensation. That certainly has not been true over the last three years of generous wage increases, and it really may be more perception than reality overall, when you consider that 90% of the CUSD budget goes to employee compensation for all employee groups.
Both CUTA and the District share an interest in multi-year wage agreements. We both feel that our current wage agreement has created a peaceful and positive school district, where employees feel valued and the District can plan its budget accurately. We will continue this discussion when we have more detailed information from the state.
The District also calculated the cost to complete the final restructuring of the salary schedule. Currently, our salary schedule, starting in year 19, has two steps where salary is frozen for three years, two more steps where salary is frozen for two years, and three single-year steps: years 29, 30, and 31. We would like to see the salary schedule top out at year 30, with year 19 being a single-year step, and years 20-21, 22-23, 24-25, 26-27, and 28-29 being two-year steps. This would be handled in a way that members can only benefit from, and we would not be removing the highest step on the salary schedule; you would simply reach the highest step in 30 years instead of 31 years. We began this process several years ago, and we want to consider finishing this restructuring based on the cost projections we get from the District. This benefits everybody. Newer teachers will be able to reach the top faster and retire sooner. Veteran teachers get the same benefit.
The cost to complete this restructuring is around $800,000, which is close to the cost of 1% on the salary schedule. This is another option CUTA is exploring with the District for the 2020-2021 school year.
As stated in the last update, the District has shared an interest in modifying the current practice for voluntary transfers. As it stands, the District has to fly job openings internally first, and they have to consider all internal applicants before flying the job opening externally on EdJoin. They would prefer to be able to fly the open positions internally and externally at the same time.
The District has proposed that CUSD Human Resources be allowed to fly positions internally and externally concurrently, and the external applicant pool would not be shared with administrators until all internal candidates have been considered. The District’s concern with the current practice is that it delays their ability to field a pool of strong external candidates because they have to wait until all internal candidates have been considered.
CUTA has proposed strengthening the internal application process in two ways: the District will guarantee an interview with each internal candidate, and the District will guarantee written notice if the internal applicant is denied within a defined time period. If the District fails to follow the process, the member will receive a payment in recourse, perhaps $250. If the District agrees to this stronger language, CUTA would agree to allow them to fly positions internally and externally at the same time, and internal candidates would still need to be interviewed and considered before the external applicant pool can be viewed by administrators. If we move forward, it would be as a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that has to be renewed annually and can be terminated by either party at any time.
Innovative Scheduling at the High Schools
John Shepherd reviewed the proposed timeline which appears below with updated information. E-Board has decided on a ⅔ majority vote for step
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed. Have a great holiday break! We have earned it.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Mary Schoenthaler serves as Vice President and Public Relations Chair for CUTA.