Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Wednesday, February 24. We spent the morning beginning the discussion on compensation. We used the formal interest-based bargaining (IBB) process. In the afternoon, we worked on topics including all-day K, stipends for junior high coaches, and the potential for teachers volunteering to have all students return to their classrooms.
We chose to use the formal IBB process to begin our compensation discussion, and it was very productive. In IBB, you begin by identifying the issue--compensation, in this case--and then you list interests related to the issue held by each negotiating party. The goal is to identify interests shared by both parties. I think it is illustrative of our collaborative relationship that all interests were shared this year. In addition, I think it interesting to see which party suggested each interest. In the list that follows, the suggesting party follows the item in parentheses. For instance, the District identified the first item--financial solvency--and CUTA shared that interest. The shared interests related to compensation were as follows:
We then began to brainstorm options for compensation. In IBB, the brainstorming process is critical, and the goal is to generate as many options as possible to spur further options. We brainstormed 60 options in this session. They range from traditional compensation to smaller more targeted items. Over time and with further discussion, this exhaustive list is refined and clarified. The eventual goal is to develop a compensation package that meets the interests of both parties and would likely be a combination of multiple options from the brainstorming session.
In addition to traditional suggestions like increasing the salary schedule or using one-time money as compensations, options included items like completing a collapse of the salary schedule so that it has uniform two-year steps from years 20-29 and tops at year 30, paying for BTSA fully, reducing the FTE required for part-timer movement up the salary schedule, performing arts stipends for hiring support staff, longevity stipends for those already at the top of the salary schedule, targeted stipends for certain oversight duties in special education programs, and many, many more. This is the beginning of a discussion which will continue for the rest of the year.
In my last update, I made an error. I believed that we had come to an agreement on the delayed start language in the all-day K MOU to be placed in contract. Actually, the District wanted to take the issue back to their principals for further input. Our kindergarten teachers were essentially unanimous in wanting to keep delayed start as the default start to the kindergarten schedule; the principals were unanimous in wanting to eliminate it. Instead of allowing this one issue to bring us to a standstill, we agreed to place the delayed start language in the MOU that will govern the remaining temporary all-day K items and return to the discussion next year for a final decision.
From CUTA’s perspective, it is critical that schools intending to utilize the delayed start next year communicate this to incoming families now. This communication should include a clear rationale for a delayed start. The District will continue to offer childcare for incoming families that want it. For delayed start to have the effect desired by kindergarten teachers, it will require establishing a culture of understanding its importance at each site.
Stipends for Junior High Coaches
There is a countywide movement to add more sports at the junior high level, and the District has an interest in being able to pay members for working as coaches. The goal is to start with cross-country running, which is an inexpensive sport that many students can participate in. The stipends for high school coaches are not a perfect fit, because a high school coach has many more responsibilities and many more meets, matches or games. We are working to develop a list of expectations for a junior high coach, and then we will create an MOU describing the position with an associated stipend. If successful, the District will look to expand the sports offerings in upcoming years.
Teachers Volunteering to Bring All Their Students Back at Once
After deciding to remain in AM/PM for the remainder of the school year, the School Board directed the District to examine the possibility of allowing teachers to voluntarily bring back all of their students in person. The District is mindful that this sounds a lot like the “voluntary third option” which caused significant issues last semester.
CUTA’s shared with the District that we can’t bargain or negotiate what teachers do voluntarily. The District understood and agreed. For instance, we can’t bargain that a teacher can’t help kids at lunch if they so choose. CUTA protects teachers’ contractual rights, but we can’t prevent a member from giving up those rights. Still, CUTA feels that having teachers voluntarily bring back all of their students creates a host of major problems.
In our session, we generated a list of concerns with the idea of allowing teachers to voluntarily bring back all students. The District shared many of these concerns. The list below contains the concerns raised.
There are almost certainly other problems we have not anticipated. The District will return to the Board with these, largely shared, concerns. If the Board chooses to move forward with the plan, then the District will write up what is expected of volunteering teachers. It’s possible that some teachers are already doing this in some form. If so, these volunteering teachers would have to follow whatever the District designs. CUTA is unable to negotiate in this situation. More information will be shared as it becomes available.
As always, thank you for taking the time to stay informed. If you want to look at our contract, the link is here.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Mary Schoenthaler serves as Vice President and Public Relations Chair for CUTA.