Chapter leader shoutout

Kudos to Maria Belkadi, PS 212, Brooklyn

For using the SBO process to increase parent engagement

Maria BelkadiMiller Photography PS 212 Chapter Leader Maria Belkadi has made creative use of the School-Based Option process, one of the many rights the union secured in the UFT-DOE contract, to make it possible for UFT members at the school in Gravesend, Brooklyn, to be more actively involved with parents and community in after-school and weekend activities

“The SBO is such a useful tool because it allows us to alter the contract in specific ways that work best for us and for the whole school community,” said Belkadi.

When polled at a chapter meeting in February 2017, an overwhelming majority of members attending supported Belkadi’s proposal to reconfigure the time set aside each week for parent engagement and the timing and format of May parent teacher conferences.

The PS 212 SBO committee set about redesigning the traditional May parent teacher conferences as a Super Hero Literacy Night in May that brought 400 families into the school for an evening of activities. So successful was the literacy event that the school passed another SBO in October to organize a Math Night in November, with the support of parents and the school’s PTA.

Belkadi also ushered through an SBO that allows PS 212 teachers and paraprofessionals to use the 40 minutes they must devote each week to parent engagement to volunteer for parent-involved after-school activities such as Math Night and the PTA Halloween party in November.

“The time trade has been very successful,” she said, in particular for teachers who find the flexibility helps them manage their parental responsibilities.

A teacher at PS 212 for 19 years, Belkadi has led the chapter for nine years.

“The SBO changes have given us flexibility and a chance to engage with students and families in a different way that is very positive,” said teacher Gail Hyman. “Maria has built a strong chapter that works really well and that supports and fights for us.”

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