Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Wednesday, February 27. We had a long agenda, and we had a productive discussion on all of the agenda items.
Kevin Moretti, your CUTA president, began the session by sharing information about a District-led meeting to look for solutions to the problem of student violence against teachers in the classroom. Although this is not a widespread problem, it does occur, and CUTA and the District both share an interest in helping teachers in this situation. The meeting included both data and information gathering and brainstorming, and Kevin felt it was very productive as a first step.
We moved on to asking clarifying questions about current RSP class sizes and about how elementary RSP teachers provide intervention support for non-RSP students. We plan to meet with elementary RSP teachers to gather input. Diane Olsen will be joining our next session to continue this discussion, as well as to discuss caseloads and class sizes for all other special education teachers. CUTA has an interest in clarifying the caseloads and class sizes for non-RSP special education teachers and in understanding how and when special education teachers receive extra support in their classrooms. We also have an interest in having a class size maximum for RSP teachers.
Next on the agenda, we discussed a way to streamline the process for CUTA to meet with new employees hired in the middle of the year. Currently, Kevin meets with newly hired teachers before the school year begins to share information about the union. It is more challenging to meet with teachers hired during the school year. The District plans to schedule a monthly meeting for any new hires during that month to meet with Kevin. This is another example of positive cooperation between the District and CUTA. We appreciate that cooperation very much.
Short-term independent study continues to generate questions from members. At our last session, the District said that short-term independent study would be for absences from 5-10 days long. In exceptional circumstances, short-term independent study could be granted for up to 15 days. We discussed what would constitute an “exceptional circumstance”. The District has now provided packet work for up to 10 days for elementary, middle and high school. We asked for the District to provide an additional 5 days of packet work for elementary, middle and high school, if they plan to grant 15 days, even if it will only be granted occasionally.
Our next topic was elementary assessment. We have heard concerns about assessment from elementary teachers for a long time, and we have struggled to find a way to address it with the District. Oftentimes, the District hears the opposite from elementary teachers. They hear from teachers who say they value all or most of the assessments and don’t want to get rid of any. We decided to try to get some actual data to work with, and we focused on TK-2 teachers as a starting point. We created and sent out a survey to all TK-2 teachers (roughly 125 people) which asked them to rate each assessment as one of the following: informative to parents, informative to teachers, both, neither, or not applicable (assessment not used in that grade level). We have received 78 responses. We are hesitant to draw ironclad conclusions from the results for several reasons. For one, almost 50 teachers didn’t respond. For another, we are not expert survey designers; it’s possible that our rating system for assessments doesn’t fully capture teacher concerns.
With that caveat, the data shows that the vast majority of assessments used in TK-2 were rated by a strong majority of responding teachers as valuable to parents, teachers or both. The exceptions to this were the I-Ready reading and math diagnostics and the CCSS math and ELA assessments. These four assessments were rated as valuable to parents, teachers, or both by 55-65% of respondents. About 35-45% of respondents rated these four assessments as valuable to neither parents nor teachers. In essence, even these less popular assessments still showed support from a majority of responding teachers.
We also received 42 written comments of which some were quite detailed. One unifying concern through the written comments was that there simply wasn’t enough time to complete the assessments, valuable though they may be. There were also more specific concerns. We are combing through these comments to try to find common concerns about the timing and frequency of specific assessments.
This leaves us in a challenging situation. In some ways, it seems like what we thought teachers were saying and what the District thought teachers were saying were both correct. Teachers are concerned about assessments, although they generally value the data gathered from the menu of assessments. What they are concerned about is time: both the time needed to give and score the assessments and the time lost for instruction. Creating time is hard. Even if the District was willing to provide more prep time or sub days to handle assessment, teachers would still be losing classroom time with their students. Our next step is to go through the notes and information gathered from the DLC-led conversations at sites. We will continue working on this issue.
We moved on to discuss the possibility of establishing an end time for called meeting time. Currently, a member can be asked to attend up to eight hours of called meeting time each month with a limit of sixty hours in a school year, and called meeting time must begin within fifteen minutes of the end of the student day. The District-wide staff development days, Back to School Night, and Open House are exceptions to the start time rule. There is nothing in the contract about when called meeting time needs to end. CUTA suggested capping called meeting time at 90 minutes, and the District is considering the idea. This would apply only to District called meeting time. IEPs are not called by the District; they are federally mandated meetings.
Several members have asked about the process for when a new student enters a classroom midyear. The District shared that administrators and office staff try to give advance notice to teachers, especially elementary teachers, so that teachers can be prepared to welcome the new student, but that there can be exceptions. Administrators and office staff will always recommend that the child start on the following day so that teachers can be informed, but in certain situations, the child will start attending on the spot. Legally, if a student is homeless, the District must enroll the student on the spot and allow them to begin attending school immediately. Additionally, if a family is insistent that their child enter the classroom right away, the school is going to allow it.
Based on a request from a member at Chico High, CUTA asked for the District to consider adding girls wrestling as a sport eligible for a coaching stipend. The District will go to the School Board with the request. Like other sports, there will have to be a minimum number of participants, or the sport would have club status. If the Board agrees to add girls wrestling, we will explore what category of coaching stipends it will fall under.
We also shared with the District concerns that have been raised by band and drama teachers at the high school level. In order to put on performances and concerts, the teachers have to do a large amount of fundraising in order to be able to pay members of the community for key tasks such choreography, costume and set design, and many more. Some of our band and drama teachers asked for these extra task positions to be stipended to relieve some of the fundraising duties. The District expressed an understanding of the large amount of work and an appreciation for the high quality of the performances, but they said that with the large increases in compensation, they are not able to add to the budget currently. In fact, they are looking to make cuts in the budget to make sure they stay fiscally sound. To be fair to the District, CUTA encouraged the District to repurpose dollars to pay for our raises. The concerns raised by the band and drama teachers are an example of a worthy cause that can’t be addressed right now because of our generous increase in compensation.
We also discussed the future of the MAA program. It’s possible that MAA dollars may eventually begin to flow into the District again. Currently, the District is in the process of paying off a penalty to the MAA program, but after that penalty has been settled, CUTA and the District share an interest in deciding how to allocate those potential future MAA dollars. The contract says that members eligible to be MAA reporters will receive 50% of the MAA dollars received by the District. The contract also says that CUTA will encourage eligible members to participate, but members are not required to. The District has expressed an interest in seeing those dollars spent on students. CUTA suggested setting up committees of eligible MAA reporters (nurses, speech therapists, and special education teachers) who could decide on how to spend the MAA dollars on bigger budget items in their departments. Some members have said they would prefer to simply receive the money as personal compensation. CUTA suggested to the District that if these members had access to 100% of the MAA dollars to spend on department needs, instead of just 50%, they might be more interested in this approach. The District is considering that option, and CUTA will be checking with its members. This is still all theoretical, because nobody knows if MAA dollars will actually return to the District.
We also discussed the process for providing schoolwork to students who are on in-school suspension (ISS). Teachers may provide work for the student at the time of the suspension and hold the student accountable for the work when the student returns to the classroom, or teachers may give the student the work when they return and give the same number of days as the suspension length for the student to make up the work. There have been issues with students being able to use Chromebooks when on ISS, and Andrew Moll, the administrator a Fairview, will join us at a future session to iron out the situation.
Lastly, we discussed when the responsibility for lesson planning shifts from the teacher to the sub when a teacher goes on medical leave. The short answer is that lesson planning becomes the sub’s responsibility when the sub starts to receive long-term sub pay. The longer answer is that the sub may start to receive long-term sub pay at different times depending on the member’s medical leave. The sub starts to receive long-term sub pay on the eleventh day of subbing for a member on medical leave. If a member knows that he or she will be gone on medical leave for more than ten days, the sub will begin to receive long-term sub pay on day one of the leave and is responsible for lesson planning from the beginning. If a member doesn’t know how long his or her leave is going to be, the member is responsible for lesson planning until the eleventh day.
We are scheduled to meet with the District next on Wednesday, March 13. If you have questions, please feel free to email me. If you’d like to look over our contract, you can find it here, which is on our website: chicouta.org.
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
I wanted to make a quick clarification about short term independent study.
If a family requests short term independent study and the school approves it, teachers have three options.
Option 1: Assign your classroom work to be completed during the absence period. Grade the work when the student returns and include it in his or her grade.
Option 2: Assign the generic packet work. Grade the packet work when the student returns (you can use a simple "credit/no credit" grade if you want). Do not assign zeroes or F's for your classroom work that the student missed while he or she was gone. This option doesn't exist yet for high school, but the packets are being developed, so it will be an option in the future.
Option 3: Assign some combination of your work and the generic packet work. Grade the work when the student returns. You can include the portion of your classroom work that you assigned for the short term independent study in the student's grade.
Each site will develop its own procedures for how to access and assign the packets.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Your bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Wednesday, January 30. We continued negotiations on a variety of topics that carried over from our last session.
We started off the morning by discussing ways to clarify Table 7.6.1, found at the end of Article 7, which describes class sizes and caseloads in special education. CUTA and the District share an interest in making changes to this table to reflect the realities of the existing programs in Chico Unified. In addition, we both want special education teachers to understand the mechanisms and situations in which additional help will be provided to special education classrooms as suggested by current language in the contract. The contract lists special education class size ranges that, when exceeded, can trigger additional support. Diane Olsen joined the negotiating teams on Wednesday and shared the process by which additional help for individual students can be requested, evaluated and provided if necessary as decided by the special education team assigned to the given student. She believes that we can adapt this process to be used in situations when the number of students (class size) may necessitate additional support. She also provided two reorganized tables that reflected the reality of current CUSD special education programs and could possibly replace the existing Table 7.6.1. Both teams appreciated her work on this issue, and we will continue to negotiate.
CUTA also has an interest in settling on a class size for RSP teachers. This is currently undefined in the contract. EdCode sets an RSP teacher’s caseload at 28 students, but there is no language about class size. There was some discussion about potentially creating a class size and total daily student contact for RSP teachers, but no hard numbers were officially discussed or proposed.
We moved on to short term independent study, and the District shared that their policy will be that short-term independent study can be assigned for absences that last five days or more or ten days or less. In special circumstances, the District can assign short-term independent study for up to 15 days, but any short-term independent study lasting 11 days or more will need to be approved at the District, not site, level. The District will be sharing this information with their administrators.
Teachers have the option to assign their own classroom work to students and hold students accountable for that work when they return. Teachers also may choose to assign generic packet work, which is currently available for elementary school and middle school, but if teachers choose to assign packet work, they may not hold students accountable for missed classroom work. Teachers must also “assess” packet work upon a student’s return, but it can be at the simple level of “credit/no credit.” High school packet work is in the process of being designed. Teachers could also assign some of their own classroom work and some packet work.
Next, we briefly reviewed changes to the new preschool job descriptions. We agreed on the changes and approved the job descriptions.
Tim Cariss joined us in the afternoon to share the results of his meeting with several representatives from special education. They met to discuss ways to improve the process for uploading changes to student testing accommodations for the SBAC tests. All involved in the meeting agreed that there was no perfect solution, but they settled on special education teachers printing out the page of the IEP document that lists accommodations and providing that to their SBAC site coordinators.
We spent a good portion of the afternoon discussing member concerns with the quantity of assessments at elementary, and most specifically in grades TK-2. The District does a lot of the selection and deletion of assessments through the DLC. CUTA suggested that it might be possible to solicit more direct input from elementary teachers, even though the DLC is made up of teachers. The District has agreed to ask its DLC members to ask for specific feedback on the quantity of assessment at a future staff meeting. CUTA is considering surveying impacted members about specific assessments to move this discussion forward.
Lastly, we want to check in with kindergarten teachers who are teaching all-day K to assess how the MOU is functioning this year. We want to iron out any issues before we begin to write permanent contract language. We are trying to schedule this meeting for a district wide staff development day. We will share more information as it becomes available.
If you’d like to look at the contract, the link is here.
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Thursday, January 17, and we discussed a wide range of issues.
We began the day by reviewing a table from the contract that lists the class sizes and caseloads for our special education teachers. The table is unclear in certain ways, and we are working to clarify the intent of the various columns. Currently, we are not trying to change class sizes or caseloads as described in the table. We are simply trying to make the table easier to understand. As we continue working on this issue, CUTA has an interest in agreeing on a maximum class size for RSP teachers, because that is not in the contract at this time. In addition, the table has a column listing class size ranges. The intent of this column is described in 7.6.1, which requires “appropriate additional support services” when a class size exceeds the listed range. We want to clarify what those supports entail.
Next, we checked in on the new task being required of some of our special education teachers related to the interim SBAC assessments. Some teachers are now required to manually enter SBAC testing accommodations, because the District is only uploading that information one time in September. Tim Cariss has sent out an invite to some special education teachers to try to develop a more efficient model for next year.
We then asked the District about short term independent study options in secondary schools. When students go on short term independent study, teachers are to be notified five days in advance. Teachers may assign their own classroom work and hold the students accountable upon return for that work, or teachers may assign a District-developed packet. If a teacher assigns the District packet, he or she must N/A his or her own classroom work for the student during the student’s absence. Teachers may even assign a combination of their own work and the District-developed work, and they can hold students accountable for the classroom work they assign. Currently, the packet work for high school has not been developed, but it is in the works. Packets for all classes in middle school, including electives, are available, and middle school administrators are being notified about its availability. If a teacher assigns packet work, he or she is required to score it, but that can be as simple as scoring it “credit/no credit”.
In addition, the District practice has been to only offer independent study for absences of 5-10 days. In other words, short term independent study cannot be assigned for four or fewer days or 11 or more days. However, the District discovered that EdCode allows for short term independent study to be assigned for up to 15 days, so the District is going to decide on a firm policy. They may extend the allowable short term independent study window up to 15 days.
We were able to decide on the broad strokes of preschool job descriptions with the input of the preschool teachers. There are a couple of details still to understand fully and add to the job descriptions, but we are largely complete.
The District had shared an interest in adding the parent-teacher conference minimum days waiver to the contract. We asked members at schools not using the waiver for their input, and they were not interested in changing their schedules and their parent-teacher conference model at this time. We shared their points of view with the District, and we will not be adding this waiver to the contract. Schools are welcome to continue using this waiver, and CUTA is happy to help any sites that are interested in exploring this waiver.
We spent a little time reviewing the timeline for developing contract language for the all-day K model, which is currently being practiced under an MOU. The MOU lays out the basic ingredients for the final contract language, and both CUTA and the District recognize the importance of getting this contract language right, so we will continue to examine what is working and what needs to be tweaked before writing the official contract language during this year and next. CUTA will be meeting with all-day K teachers to get their input on the current MOU.
We began, or restarted, a discussion about elementary assessment. Some of our elementary teachers, and especially our TK-3 primary teachers, have expressed concern about the quantity of assessment occurring. The District felt that they were getting adequate teacher input about assessment through the DLC model. CUTA asked for the DLC members to hold assessment feedback sessions during an upcoming staff meeting at their sites, and it will be important for members to share specific concerns about assessment that DLC members can take back to the District. In addition, the District is going to provide their estimate of how long each assessment should take, with the recognition that many assessments have widely variable lengths depending on student ability. CUTA will attempt to make the same calculations, and we will see how far apart our assumptions are. This will help guide future discussions.
Lastly, the District shared the results from their survey of high school teachers in regards to innovative scheduling at the high schools. The District, at the direction of the School Board, has been investigating teacher interest in a different high school schedule to benefit our students. The changes would be so substantial that the traditional waiver process would not be sufficient. The District has worked hard to enlist teachers to explore various options and share these options with their colleagues. After much work and discussion, the teachers voted 77% to 23% to continue the discussion.
We meet with the District again on Wednesday, January 30. We will be going through the formal process to open negotiations for next year. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to complete the one-question survey which can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7G73F68
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed. If you would like to look over our contract, you can click the following link: http://www.chicouta.org/contract.html
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Thursday, 12/13/18. We were scheduled to meet on 11/8/18 and 11/30/18, but the Camp Fire occurred. Returning to negotiations was part of the process of returning to normal in our District.
We began negotiations with a discussion of special education class sizes and caseloads. Diane Olsen attended to share her expertise, and we went through the entire interest based bargaining process to approach this issue, which has multiple components. To give a little background, RSP teachers have an Ed Code defined caseload of 28, but our other special education teachers do not have an Ed Code defined caseload. In Article 7 of our contract, we have language that identifies class size/caseload ranges and maximum class sizes and caseloads for our special education programs, but we have no language identifying class size for RSP teachers. Additionally, our contract language, which was adopted from BCOE many years ago, does not distinguish between class sizes and caseloads. To add to the confusion, we have contract language that states that teachers who go over the suggested ranges should receive “appropriate additional support services,” which is rather vague. Quite frankly, it’s all a bit of a mess.
CUTA has a potential interest in establishing class sizes for RSP teachers and in clarifying the rest of the language relating to class sizes and caseloads for our other special education teachers. The District shares an interest in clarifying the language and in clarifying what “appropriate additional support services” means in practice. CUTA is concerned that, because RSP has no contractual class size, the District could theoretically put 38 students into an RSP teacher’s classroom. To be clear, the District has not done this and we don’t believe that they intend to do this, but we always feel better when there is clear language in the contract. This is a potentially long discussion because of the wide variety of program styles and approaches in the different special education programs in elementary, middle school and high school. We will keep you informed as we continue negotiating.
In the afternoon, we were joined by Tim Cariss to discuss additional duties assigned to special education teachers related to the interim SBAC assessments. One purpose of the interim SBAC assessments is for students who receive testing accommodations to get a chance to practice using the accommodations. These accommodations can be assigned in two ways. The District can conduct a mass upload of all CUSD data from the Special Education Information System (SEIS), which includes the accommodations as assigned in IEP meetings, or they can do piecemeal manual uploads for individual students or groups of students. In the past, the mass upload was conducted soon before the start of official state testing in April, but now that we are giving interim SBAC assessments, the District conducted the mass upload at the end of September. That means that special education teachers have to notify their SBAC site coordinators of any changes to student accommodations made during annual IEPs so that the site coordinator can make those changes manually. It’s added another layer of work to the special education teachers in a time when many of them already feel that completing their job is a challenge. To add to the complexity, many non-special education students receive SBAC accommodations as well, and those accommodations also have to make it into the SBAC testing system. Tim Cariss will be emailing a group of special education teachers to see whether anyone has ideas for making this process more efficient.
We moved on to a brief discussion of the 504 process, and we shared two more concerns that counselors shared with us. Jim Hanlon and Diane Olsen are preparing their responses, and we will share their answers with counselors.
Next, Jim Hanlon shared the District’s job descriptions for preschool teachers. Currently, we have three state-funded preschools in Chico Unified, and there are plans to add a fourth. The preschool teachers are CUTA members, and we have an interest in negotiating a job description that meets their expectations and the needs of the program. We will meet with the preschool teachers and gather their input on the District’s perspective of what their job should include.
Lastly, we discussed the waivers in place at many elementary schools in which schools “bank” minutes over the course of the year, which allows for one week of minimum days following the parent conference day, along with a minimum day on the day before winter break and the day before summer vacation. The schools utilizing this waiver work five extra minutes every day to generate the minutes needed for the seven minimum days. The District is interested in adding this to the contract so that all schools follow the same schedule. At this time, CUTA is not interested in adding this language to the contract. There are sites that feel that their current schedule best serves the needs of the parents of their populations. CUTA will continue to facilitate any sites that are interested in trying out this waiver.
The last month and a half have been a test for our District. The Camp Fire and its aftermath are unprecedented. All I can say is thank you to all of our colleagues who have worked tirelessly for our community. It is your work that will keep us moving forward. Take care of yourselves and of your colleagues.
If you would like to look through our contract, here is the link: http://www.chicouta.org/contract.html
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Wednesday, October 24. It was a very productive session that highlighted again the positive, transparent and cooperative partnership that CUTA and the District have forged over the last several years. We reached agreement on several issues, and we continued to work on other issues with mutual interest.
The District would like to add the class size MOU into the contract. This is the MOU that drops secondary class size to 38 and allows secondary teachers to voluntarily increase their caseload from 175 up to 180. For each increase of one in caseload, the teacher is paid $500 per semester, up to $2500 for a caseload of 180, per semester. In elementary school, the District is already able to go over the class size of 33 by one to 34 in 30% of classrooms. This is not voluntary on the teacher’s part, but the MOU pays these teachers $500 per semester if they are selected to go to 34 students. We will create contract language for you to vote on in the next tentative agreement (TA).
Next we put together an MOU for special education teachers at Inspire, because the schedule at Inspire does not match our contract. The MOU also codifies the District practice of giving CUSD employees at Inspire the right to transfer to an open special education position in Chico Unified after two years of service at Inspire. This is another example of the District treating our members well.
We moved on to continuing the discussion about the assigning of work to students who have been suspended. Education Code says teachers may assign work to students who have been suspended, but local School Boards can expand student rights, and our School Board is planning to change that may to shall. Our discussions on this topic are not over, but one option would be to give teachers two choices. A teacher could either provide work for the student at the start of the suspension, and the work would be due upon return, or a teacher could allow the same number of days as the suspension length for the student to make up the work upon return. For example, if a student was suspended for 5 days, they would have five days after returning to make up missing work. We also said it would be very useful if suspended students could use their Chromebooks while suspended, because many teachers provide assignments through Google Classroom. We had some reports that students on in-school suspension were not allowed to use their Chromebooks, and the District agreed to look into that.
The District then shared the responses they had crafted in response to concerns expressed by counselors about the 504 process. We read through the District responses and suggested some additions. That document will be shared soon with counselors, and then we can continue to work towards helping our counselors feel more comfortable with 504s, which can be very challenging to develop and organize.
We then turned our discussions to the MAA program. The District has a large payback to make to the MAA program, but at some point MAA payments to the District may return. We are exploring ways in which the program may change. Currently, very few CUTA members are eligible to complete the MAA surveys which generate money for the District. These members include special education teachers, counselors, speech therapists and nurses. One option would be to share the CUTA portion of future MAA funding with the eligible members’ departments to spend on extras to supplement those departments’ needs. The exact structure of such an arrangement is still under discussion, but the District agrees with it in principle. We will continue these discussions.
Next we moved on to a new task that special education teachers are facing due to the District’s desire for students to take interim math and ELA SBAC tests. Many special education students receive accommodations on the SBAC test, and the SBAC testing system communicates with the special education recording system to apply these accommodations listed on special education students’ IEPs. In the past, the District passed the data in early spring so that the most up to date IEP information was shared with the SBAC testing system. Now, with students taking interim SBAC tests, the District passed the data from the special education recording system to the SBAC testing system in the early fall. Any new accommodations from IEP meetings held between September and April will need to be entered by hand by the special education teachers. Tim Cariss will be attending a future negotiations session to explain the process. We hope to figure out a way to minimize the impact on special education teachers.
Lastly, we continued our negotiations on leave and return rights for members. We began this discussion last spring. Current contract language grants members the right to return to the same site if they go on maternity or child care leave (or any succession of the two) for 130 days or less. The District has agreed to expand this contractual return rights language to all leaves available in the contract, subject to all other contractual components of these leaves. Our leave policies are in Article 10. This is another example of the District listening to CUTA’s concerns and acting in good faith. We appreciate the clarity that this expansion of leave rights means for our members. Now members will have the right to return to their site for all leaves lasting up to 130 days, subject to your approval in our next TA.
Lastly, we will be going through our entire interest based bargaining process to work on the District practice of placing SDC students in RSP classes at the secondary level. Diane Olsen will attend our session on November 8, and we appreciate her joining the teams to work through this issue.
Here is the link to our current contract: http://www.chicouta.org/contract.html
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met for negotiations on Thursday, October 11, to continue our ongoing discussions of a number of different topics in Chico Unified.
John Bohannon joined us to discuss how we can protect our members who provide special education services at charter schools. As part of the laws governing charter schools, the District to provide special education services if charter schools request them. We do charge the charter schools for these services, but our members are working on sites where they may not receive all the benefits of our contract. John explained the process for our members to get help if they have a problem, contractual or otherwise, at a charter school. Although CUSD is not “in charge” of any charter schools, they can mediate and solve problems for members at these sites, so for many problems, our members can go directly to Diane Olsen or John (or his replacement). For problems related to unprofessional conduct of a charter director/principal, our members can file a complaint directly with the School Board. Our members take these positions voluntarily, and the District’s current practice is to allow them to transfer to a CUSD position that becomes available. We are considering writing contract language that states that practice, but we will experiment with an MOU first. CUSD is only providing special education services to three charter schools, and these three may elect to forgo our services. If they do, we do not have to provide services for them anymore, which would solve the problem.
We then spent time crafting an MOU that will allow the high schools to continue to use a modified schedule for finals week and also allows for a two-week modified schedule for SBAC testing without violating the contract. Both the schedule for finals and the schedule for SBAC testing would be subject to a simple majority vote at each high school. Middle school is included in this MOU but are not currently using modified schedules. The MOU will go to E-Board for approval.
We moved on to finalizing an MOU that will allow the District to help our new teachers by paying half of the up-front cost of the BCOE BTSA induction program. The District still pays our new teachers a total of $3,000 for BTSA. This MOU simply shifts the payment to help new teachers faced with large up-front costs. We are exploring how units for salary schedule progression would be awarded for completing BTSA. The District feels that new teachers should receive 12 units of District-approved units for salary schedule progression, but these units would not “travel” outside the District if the teacher went to teach elsewhere. There may be a way for new teachers to buy these units so they would be durable. We are also looking into how mentor teachers could earn units. Mentor teachers are paid a stipend of $1,800 per year, so we will examine how that may impact receiving units.
Our next topic involved the assigning of work to students who have been suspended. Education Code says teachers may assign work to students who have been suspended, but local School Boards can expand student rights, and our School Board is planning to change that may to shall. Our discussions on this topic are not over, but one option would be to give teachers two choices. A teacher could either provide work for the student at the start of the suspension, and the work would be due upon return, or a teacher could allow the same number of days as the suspension length for the student to make up the work upon return. For example, if a student was suspended for 5 days, they would have five days after returning to make up missing work. We also said it would be very useful if suspended students could use their Chromebooks while suspended, because many teachers provide assignments through Google Classroom. We had some reports that students on in-school suspension were not allowed to use their Chromebooks, and the District agreed to look into that.
Diane Olsen joined us in the afternoon to discuss concerns counselors have expressed about the 504 process. The District is crafting a response to the counselors’ concerns, which we will be sharing with affected members. The District stressed repeatedly that they do not want counselors to feel alone or unsupported during the 504 process. They also emphasized that it was the job of administrators to make sure that implementation of 504s is happening appropriately in classrooms. In addition, Diane shared that the District is looking into a different platform to use for the online forms that will hopefully streamline and improve the functionality of filling out the extensive paperwork. More information will be forthcoming.
CUTA and CUSD then agreed to go through the full interest based bargaining process to address the practice of placing SDC students into RSP teachers’ classes. We have a disagreement about the implication of this practice for RSP caseloads, and we both feel that we need to use our IBB training to work towards a resolution. This process is scheduled for November 8.
Finally, we spent time discussing the future of the MAA program and how it might work in our district. Because there are so few members eligible for participating in the MAA program, CUTA suggested that eligible member groups (RSP, SDC, speech therapists, nurses, among others), receive a proportional part of future MAA funds to spend on needs within their member group. The District is looking into the feasibility of our suggestion. To be clear, there are no MAA dollars for distribution currently. The District has back payments they need to make to MAA before any of the above could occur.
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed. Below is a link to our contract if you would like to learn more.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
The CUTA Organizing Committee hosted their first kid-friendly social with a picnic at Hooker Oak Park on September 28, 2018. The event was well attended and enjoyed by our members and their families. CUTA provided hot dogs, chips, cookies, water, and watermelon.
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
Additional Bargaining Update
If you are nearing retirement, I wanted to share two more pieces of information from our negotiations session last Thursday.
First, CUTA and the District plan to continue with the MOU allowing the District to offer an "early tell" retirement incentive. If you provide the District with a letter saying you plan to retire at the end of this school year, you will receive a small bonus.
If you turn your letter in by February 1, they will pay you $1,000. If you submit the letter by March 1, they will pay you $500.
Additionally, I wanted to share the new District contributions to retiree health benefits. Because the retiree premium rates are tiered, there are two different contributions.
For an eligible retiree with a spouse and/or family, the District contribution is $1,454 per month.
For an eligible single retiree, the District contribution is $1,018 per month.
Please refer to the contract, Article 9, available at the link below, for eligibility requirements for retirees.
The link is also a great way for anyone to view our contract at the Chico Unified Teachers Association website. http://www.chicouta.org/contract.html
Thanks for taking the time to stay informed.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Mary Schoenthaler serves as Vice President and Public Relations Chair for CUTA.