Chapter Leader UpdateNov. 30, 2023
Next Delegate Assembly is Dec. 13
Chapter leader stipend checks will be mailed in December
Chapter leaders are the face of the union for members, and we rely on your leadership. As a small acknowledgment of the work you’ve done and the work you will do this school year, we are mailing your base stipend check in mid-December to compensate you for out-of-pocket expenses you incur while performing your duties as chapter leader. You will receive $6 per member, up to a maximum of $1,350. The chapter leader stipend is based on your estimated expenses as chapter leader during the school year. The IRS is clear: For tax purposes, any excess you receive must be included in your gross income. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you keep all receipts. Chapter leaders who qualify will receive a second supplementary stipend in late June in recognition of the extra time and effort they have dedicated to organize, empower and engage members during the 2023–24 school year.
Tell the Council to reject school budget cuts
In his latest attack on our school system, Mayor Adams announced a plan to slash 5% of the DOE’s overall budget. If he is not stopped, funding will soon be cut for after-school programs, per session, per diem coverages, early childhood education, computer science, community schools, mental health and more. These damaging cuts are unnecessary. City revenue is higher than expected, the city’s reserves are at a near-record high, and state aid has increased. The influx of asylum seekers has cost the city money, but the mayor has exploited that issue to vastly inflate city expenses for the next four years. The City Council has the ability to block the mayor from enacting this cut and two more 5% cuts that he plans for the current fiscal year that ends in June. So far, more than 3,500 UFT members and parents have sent an email to their Council members telling them to reject these cuts. We need to keep the pressure on. Please urge your colleagues to take two minutes to tell their Council rep to stand up for our kids.
Enrollment-based mid-year budget cuts, too
On top of his plan to cut as much as 15% from the DOE’s overall budget by June 2024, Mayor Adams is clawing back $109 million from schools where enrollment decreased over July projections. That means 653 schools — 43% of all schools — will be hit with another set of midyear budget cuts. It’s the first time since 2019 that a mayor has not held schools harmless for enrollment decreases. Other public schools, including those that received an influx of children from asylum-seeking families, will see a budget increase based on higher-than-projected enrollment. You can use this lookup tool to find out if your school will lose funding and how much. If your school is facing an enrollment-based cut to its budget, put the topic on the agenda for your next consultation committee meeting to discuss your principal’s plans for reducing costs.
UFT keeps pressure on the city to implement class size law
UFT President Michael Mulgrew, joined by by parents, educators, advocates and elected officials, held a press conference at Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School on Nov. 21 to release a union survey that showed — despite claims by critics — more than 300,000 students in the city’s high-need schools are in oversized classes. The state’s class size law states that New York City's “class size reduction plan shall prioritize schools serving populations with higher poverty levels.” And yet, in nearly 700 Title 1 schools, according to the union survey, 50% or more of the classes, containing a total of more than 322,000 students, are larger than the new state law allows. The law requires that by September 2028 — the end of the five-year phase-in period — all classes in New York City public schools must comply with these new maximums: 20 students for kindergarten through Grade 3; 23 students for grades 4–8; and 25 students for high school.
UFT Shanker scholarship applications now available
Make sure high school seniors in your school apply for a $5,000 Albert Shanker college scholarship. The application deadline is Feb. 28, 2024. Each year, the UFT awards $1 million in scholarships to academically excellent and financially eligible New York City public high school seniors through the Albert Shanker College Scholarship Fund. Please reach out to your school’s college advisers and school counselors to make sure that eligible seniors apply for these scholarships. If you do not work in a high school, please reach out to family, friends and community members who may qualify for this award. Eligible recipients must be accepted into a full-time, matriculated, degree-granting program at an accredited college or university for fall 2024. Students can apply electronically through the Albert Shanker College Scholarship website. You can find more information and the application materials on the UFT website.
To Do #1
Review DOE guidance on school handbooks
Make sure your principal is adhering to the DOE’s guidance about school handbooks. While school handbooks may be used to notify staff of school procedures such as safety drills and student dismissal, they may not contain directives that contradict the DOE-UFT contract. For example, handbooks may not establish a staff dress code or mandate a specific timeframe for requesting a personal day. In addition, members can be asked to sign and acknowledge only the receipt of the handbook — not that they have familiarized themselves with its contents. If you think your school’s administration is ignoring the DOE’s school handbook guidelines, contact your UFT district representative.
To Do #2
Hold your fall meeting of the Special Education Committee
Your new school-based Special Education Committee must meet with the principal at least once in the fall to discuss special education compliance issues that are not student-specific, with the goal of resolving the issues at the school level. If your committee has not met, please schedule a meeting with your principal as soon as possible and submit your Special Education Committee notes on the Chapter Leader Hub 10 school days after the meeting to let the union know if the principal resolved the issues you raised. The form should take less than five minutes to fill out.
To Do #3
Don't use student names in UFT emails
Please remember that personal information about students is considered a student record and should not be shared with the UFT in email. If you or your members need to submit a report to the union for an investigation or a complaint that involves discussing student behavior, performance or related services, do not name the student in an email. If you or your members receive a communication that includes a student name, please do not forward it. Copy and paste the pertinent information and remove the student's name before sharing with others.
To Do #4
Last chance to bring unwrapped toys to the Dec. 13 DA
You can share in this season of joy by donating a toy to a student in need or delivering donations from your school’s toy drive at the Delegate Assembly on Dec. 13. The toys should be new and unwrapped for newborns to 16-year-olds. You and your members may also bring toys to your UFT borough office through Friday, Dec. 15, or make a monetary donation via PayPal. You may also shop online and ship toys to
UFT Elementary Schools Division
52 Broadway, 14th floor
New York, NY 10004
To Do #5
Fliers to share with your members
Print and distribute these fliers in member mailboxes or post on your school’s UFT bulletin board.
Find out who in your chapter contributes to COPE
Members’ voluntary contributions to COPE, our Committee on Political Education — not union dues — fund the union’s political work with communities, elected officials and members. UFT members’ monthly contributions ensure they are heard by lawmakers on the issues that matter to union members. COPE’s impact can be seen in the passage of state legislation to reduce class sizes and the provision of survivor benefits for families of COVID victims. COPE will fund our lobbying in Albany to fix Tier 6.
Find out which members at your school contribute to COPE in the Chapter Leader Hub. You can access the Chapter Leader Hub with your UFT website username and password.
The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal entities as appropriate:
- Pushing the DOE to release the Class Size Working Group’s recommendations for implementation of the state class size law.
- Following up with the DOE on chapter leader submissions of regular subs to make sure they are being paid properly.
- Securing ratification bonuses for UFT members who were on terminal leave as of June 27.
Health and Safety
CTE teachers can help students get OSHA certifications
The UFT and the AFT, in collaboration with the International Chemical Workers’ Union Council, trains career and technical education teachers so they can help their students get OSHA-certified for employment opportunities. It’s a two-step process that empowers CTE educators to train and issue OSHA certification cards to students.The first step for teachers is to complete a 30-hour course or have an OSHA equivalent. Then teachers must complete an OSHA train-the-trainer course for general or construction industry standards. Once the teacher is authorized, they can present the outreach training to students. The International Chemical Workers’ Union Council has a federal grant, so the courses are provided free to participants, who are also reimbursed for travel costs and receive breakfast and lunch. The course (OSHA #510 Construction Industry) will next be offered on Jan. 23-26, 2024, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at UFT headquarters. Interested members should contact Junior Linton, the UFT safety and health program coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-598-7762. Those who receive this certification must renew their authorization every four years.
Supporting students from asylum-seeking families
This Wednesday, the UFT held a Summit to Support Newcomers that brought together educators, academics, immigration activists and representatives from community-based organizations to identify initiatives that are working and might be scalable with appropriate support from the DOE and the city. The summit followed the union’s Oct. 25 listening session where we heard directly from UFT members about the challenges they’re facing as a result of the influx of newcomer students in their schools. We plan to synthesize the summit findings in a report that will connect the dots among the many disparate organizations, educators and community groups that are working hard to support asylum-seeking families and make recommendations for creating sustainable supports for our schools. The summit participants raised the need to organize a petition in response to Mayor Adams’ decision to require these families to reapply for shelter or find alternative housing under a new city policy that could have devastating educational consequences for the children who will be uprooted. The UFT will be launching that petition shortly so be sure to sign and share.
That same day, the union submitted testimony before the City Council Education and Immigration Committees at a hearing on the newcomers in our schools. We expressed our deep concern with the administration's inadequate response to the multiple needs of these children and their families, including for food and safe housing, social-emotional support and appropriate educational services as English language learners. We reiterated our repeated request for a point person in each community school district to coordinate services and support educators of English language learners.
Speak at your borough’s hearing on mayoral control
The law extending the mayor’s power over New York City public schools is due to expire in June 2024. The current version of mayoral control gives the mayor too much unilateral power; more checks and balances are needed. The New York State Education Department is holding a series of five in-person public hearings as part of the state’s review of the overall effectiveness of mayoral control. Members of the public — including parents, students and educators — are welcome to testify (you must sign up two days in advance) and/or submit written electronic testimony by Jan. 31 on their experiences and assessment of mayoral control to help inform the state’s review.
- Bronx: Tuesday, Dec. 5, DeWitt Clinton HS
- Queens: Monday, Dec. 18, Thomas A. Edison CTE HS
- Brooklyn: Thursday, Jan. 11, Boys and Girls HS
- Manhattan: Thursday, Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Complex
- Staten Island: Monday, Jan. 29, New Dorp HS
If you or others in your school community are interested in testifying at the hearing in your borough, please contact your UFT district representative. The State Education Department has posted the request to testify form for the Bronx hearing. All hearings are from 6 to 9 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m.
Salary & Personnel
Teacher's Choice money in Nov. 30 paychecks
Members eligible for Teacher's Choice should receive the money in their Nov. 30 paychecks. If a member in an eligible title who was on payroll as of Nov. 1 does not receive the payment, your principal should inform the DOE’s Teacher’s Choice unit by Wednesday, Dec. 6. A second distribution for those missed on Nov. 30 is scheduled for Dec. 29. The Teacher’s Choice purchasing window, which began on Aug. 1, closes on Jan. 12, 2024. Members should submit the receipts of purchases with a Statement of Purpose/Accountability form, by Jan. 19. If a member who received a Teacher’s Choice payment does not file an accountability form with required receipts by the deadline, the DOE will take back the money. For more information, go to the Teacher’s Choice section of the UFT website. If you need assistance, call the DOE at 718‑935‑4000 or speak with your payroll secretary.
Preparation time for a pivot to remote instruction
The DOE has asked schools to make sure that teachers can connect with students via their digital classrooms in the event that the school system has to pivot to remote instruction because of a snowstorm or for some other reason. We made sure that every teacher gets time in their schedules to do this work. For this school year only, the DOE is telling principals that if teachers haven’t already done this task, they can use the following time in their workday to complete it:
- Middle and high school teachers shall be relieved from one professional activity assignment;
- Elementary teachers shall complete this work during the OPW block and this may be worked remotely.
Special education training for paraprofessionals
The UFT Paraprofessionals Chapter is providing virtual training for paraprofessionals borough by borough in December and early January. This training is designed to heighten awareness among paras of the school-based Special Education Committees created in the 2023 contract and to understand the types of compliance issues this new committee can address. Chapter leaders have been encouraged to solicit the input and include paraprofessionals on the committee. As part of the training, paraprofessionals will also learn how to use the DOE’s Standard Operating Procedures Manual to ensure a student’s IEP is being implemented properly and learn to identify and understand the relevant parts of the IEP and the role of IEP-assigned paraprofessionals.
The training sessions are as follows: Bronx, Dec. 11, 5 to 6 p.m.; Manhattan, Dec. 19, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.; Brooklyn, Jan. 3, 2024, 4 to 5 p.m.; Queens, Jan. 4, 4 to 5 p.m.; and Staten Island, Jan. 9, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Email invitations will be sent to paraprofessionals in their respective boroughs.
UFT Teacher Center workshops for paraprofessionals
The UFT Teacher Center continues in December and next year with its Para Academy offerings for UFT paraprofessionals. These virtual training sessions take place on Tuesdays between 4 and 6 p.m. The fee is $15 for two CTLE credits or $5 without CTLE. The next workshop, on Tuesday, Dec. 19, is on Strategies for Supporting Students with Disabilities during Small Group Instruction. For a list of the other workshops, check this flier.
UFT discounts can save you money during the holidays
The UFT has negotiated special discounts for UFT members for apparel, gifts, travel and more. Members can access these discounts in the Discounts and Promotions section of the UFT website. Two discounts stand out for gift buying this holiday season:
- The UFT PlumBenefits discount for retail shopping, Broadway shows and travel. Use code ac1221094 to access the website.
- The UFT corporate shopping discount for use at more than 250 retail venues including Best Buy, Pottery Barn and more.
The UFT also offers discounted movie tickets to Premium UA Theatres, Regal Cinemas, BowTie Cinemas and Cinepolis from $8.50 to $10, depending upon the movie theatre company. Visit the Discounts and Promotions section of the UFT website. Please note: You must log into the website to view this section.
- DOE guidance on paperwork and operational issues 2023-24 (October 2023)
- DOE Library Services Guidance 2023-24 (October 2023)
- DOE School Allocation Memo, No. 16, 2024 (June 2023)
- DOE Personnel Memo, No. 1 2023-24 (July 2023)
- DOE Health Guidance 2023-24 (September 2023)
- DOE-UFT Memorandum of Agreement (June 2023)
Academic High Schools citywide meeting
Please join Vice President for Academic High Schools, Janella T. Hinds for a virtual citywide meeting for academic high school educators. Participants will get updates on issues affecting academic high schools and the union as a whole.
School Secretaries Chapter citywide meeting
Join Sheryl Pender, the chapter leader of the School Secretaries Chapter, for the first chapter meeting of the school year. She'll discuss issues of concern for school secretaries and update the group on the union's activities.