Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Thursday, January 16. We continued discussing special education, innovative scheduling at the high school, compensation and a host of other issues as well.
We continued discussing the District’s plan to allow mild/moderate SDC secondary teachers to volunteer to become RSP teachers. In this plan, all of the mild/moderate SDC and RSP students would be blended into one group of students simply called mild/moderate students when they exit elementary school and enter middle school. Any mild/moderate SDC secondary teachers who wish to remain in their positions would be able to with no changes to their job. Those who volunteer to become RSP teachers would have a caseload of 28 students from the blended pool. Current RSP teachers could be impacted in terms of the classes they teach and the sizes of their classes.
CUTA is negotiating specifics of the District’s plan, including maximum class sizes, potential changes to caseload maximums, and a guarantee of protection for teachers who don’t volunteer for the change. The District will continue to hold voluntary meetings for potentially impacted teachers, and these meetings have already generated excellent questions, which CUTA shared with the District yesterday
The District has not shared a date when they would ask for teachers to make the decision to volunteer, because they recognize that more planning and information is needed. CUTA believes the specifics of the new model need to be negotiated before members should volunteer. We will continue negotiations in February.
Innovative Scheduling at the High Schools
We began to work on the negotiable issues related to the proposed block schedule at the high schools. Once the negotiated issues have been settled, the final plan will go back to the high schools for a vote to approve or not. If the final plan achieves a two-thirds approval vote at both high schools, the plan will go to E-Board for approval. If E-Board approves the plan, it will go into the next tentative agreement along with other negotiated items unrelated to innovative scheduling, which will be voted on by all members.
Negotiable items discussed on Wednesday included (in no particular order):
This will be dictated by the new law saying high school must start at 8:30 or later. If the new law does not go into effect, start times at both schools will likely not change.
Prep time for general education
A teacher will receive two preps during the eight period block; the preps will be on different days unless mutually agreed to by the member and the administrator.
Prep time for special education
CUTA advocated for special education teachers to receive three non-teaching periods during the eight period block; negotiations are continuing.
Maximum class size
Total student contacts
If a teacher agreed to teach a seventh class because of site need, he or she would receive pay commensurate to 7/6ths of his or her salary. If a teacher agreed to teach a seventh and an eighth class, he or she would receive pay commensurate to 8/6ths of his or her salary.
Teaching minutes in a day
The scheduling of collaboration time would be embedded in the contract language for the block schedule with the existing waiver language describing the purpose of collaboration time and the fact that it is teacher-driven.
If the block schedule becomes a reality, high school teachers at PV and Chico High would have first rights to transfer out of comprehensive high schools to other open positions that they are credentialed for and an interview process would govern decisions in the case of multiple candidates.
Innovative scheduling would have a five-year sunset clause, which means that after four years, it would automatically reopen for negotiations. CUTA or the District could choose to end innovative scheduling at that time, or they could negotiate for it to continue.
Flexible implementation year
If innovative scheduling was adopted, the District could delay implementation for one year (from 2021-22 to 2022-23) if required by budgetary constraints.
We will continue our discussions in February at our next session and after the two voluntary informational meetings scheduled for February 3 (CHS Lincoln Hall at 3:15 pm) and February 10 (PVHS Library at 3:00 pm).
New Teacher Induction Program Costs
The state has increased the new teacher induction program from a one-year requirement to a two-year requirement and has also increased the tuition cost from $3,000 to $3,600, for a total cost to new teachers of $7,200. This is an extreme hardship for many new teachers, who are often already saddled with student loans.
Several years ago, the District offered to pay $3,000 towards the tuition cost. At the time, this covered the entire cost of the then one-year program. The District then offered to pay $1,500 of the cost “up front” to the new teacher induction program at the Butte County Office of Education to further help our new teachers.
I want to be clear that the District came to CUTA and made these generous offers, which we were happy to negotiate. This increased cost comes at an unfortunate time, when money is tight in the District. Nonetheless, we are working with the District to try to alleviate this burden on new teachers. When I talked to BCOE about the induction program, they said that they are sometimes able to get grant money to reduce the tuition cost, but it is not guaranteed. We will also be looking at how surrounding districts are managing this increased cost to new teachers.
If you’d like to see the current version of our contract, here is the link.
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.