Chapter Leader UpdateJune 1, 2023
This Week's Focus
No school budget cuts this September
A months-long push by the UFT and other public school advocates has paid off: The mayor and the DOE made good on their promise to hold schools harmless in September for drops in enrollment. In individual school budgets released by the DOE this week, 62 percent of city schools will see their budgets increase, mostly due to a new funding formula that provides more money for students in temporary housing and other high-needs groups. The remainder of the schools will receive the same level of funding as this school year. You can find your school’s allotment on this budget table. Chapter leaders should seek a consultation with their principals to discuss the school’s spending plans. Remember: Article 8C of our union contract gives the chapter leader, along with the chapter consultation committee, the right to review as well as provide input into spending decisions. Chancellor’s Regulation A-655 also grants School Leadership Teams the ability to ensure that the school budget is aligned to the Comprehensive Educational Plan. City officials left open the possibility of school budget cuts later in the school year based on schools’ actual enrollment. UFT President Michael Mulgrew has countered that mid-year cuts are even more damaging than cuts at the start of the school year because they disrupt staffing and programming.
Contract negotiations intensify
The UFT, the city and the DOE are in intense negotiations as the union makes a final bid to reach agreement on the fair contract that members deserve by the end of the school year. We are pushing hard at the bargaining table to get the full value from the financial pattern set by District Council 37 and to make meaningful changes to working conditions, including fewer DOE mandates, less paperwork and more educator autonomy. So far, more than 100 negotiating sessions have taken place. We’ve reached tentative agreement on some provisions, but big-ticket items including wages and the workday are still on the table.
Our Spring Education Conference was a success
About 1,300 educators turned out to celebrate our profession at the UFT’s Spring Education Conference on May 20 at the New York Hilton. The event began with a town hall on self-care followed by workshops and an exhibit hall showcasing the skills of career and technical education students. During the gala luncheon, the Voices of 130 chorus from PS 130 in Manhattan performed and members heard from UFT President Michael Mulgrew, state Attorney General Leticia James, Schools Chancellor David C. Banks, AFT President Randi Weingarten, NYSUT President Melinda Person and City Comptroller Brad Lander. The conference wrapped up with a rousing performance by hip-hop legend Kurtis Blow. See the photos from the event on the UFT website, our Facebook post about the CTE students at the exhibit hall, and check out members’ #UFTSpring tweets that captured the spirit of the day.
Chapter Leader Checklist
To Do #1
DA resolutions online
Couldn’t get to the last Delegate Assembly? You can find all the resolutions passed at our gatherings on the UFT website. From the homepage, hover your mouse over Your Union in the top navigation and then select Our Issues from the dropdown menu.
To Do #2
Have you submitted your consultation committee summary?
Your consultation committee summary for your May meeting with your principal is due next week. Please submit your summary via the Chapter Leader Hub.
To Do #3
Present UFT certificates for your chapter's deserving graduates
UFT officers and the chairs of the union’s Professional Committees have a long tradition of supporting and rewarding our schools’ graduates by awarding certificates for excellence in academic achievement. Certificates may be presented to the most deserving students in each subject area as well as our youngest students in early childhood classrooms and pre-K centers. Download the student certificates for excellence in academic achievement, extraordinary effort and early childhood. For more information, read the letter from UFT President Michael Mulgrew and George Altomare, the director of the UFT Professional Committees.
To Do #4
Contact your district rep if members are pressured to sign extension of probation
Probationers whose principals want to extend their probations do not have to sign the extension of probation immediately. Members have the right to have one of the union’s lawyers review it. In fact, every extension of probation should be submitted to the UFT for a NYSUT attorney to review before the member makes the decision whether to sign. Contact your UFT district rep each time a member receives an extension of probation or when your principal insists the member sign the extension without the proper time for a review.
To Do #5
Fliers to share with your members
Here are fliers you can print and distribute in member mailboxes or post on your school's UFT bulletin board.
Check COPE membership on the Chapter Leader Hub
Members’ voluntary contributions to our Committee on Political Education, COPE — not union dues — fund the union’s political work with members, communities and elected officials. By contributing to COPE each month, UFT members ensure their voices are heard by lawmakers on the issues that matter to us. COPE’s impact can be seen in the passage of state legislation to reduce class sizes, the provision of survivor benefits for the families of COVID victims and the enactment of a law ensuring paraprofessionals are automatically enrolled in the Teachers’ Retirement System. Find out which members at your school contribute to COPE on the COPE report for your school in the Chapter Leader Hub. Remember, you can access the Chapter Leader Hub using your UFT website username and password.
Work in progress
The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal entities as appropriate:
- Negotiating a new contract.
- Pushing the DOE to disclose the 20% of classes in high-need schools that will comply with the class-size law this September, and, more broadly, to develop a serious plan for the five-year phase-in of the law.
- Working with the DOE to create a strong professional learning program to support educators in schools that will use one of the new required reading curricula in September.
- Pushing the DOE to share its plan for how the Division of Early Childhood Education can best support 3K and pre-K students, families and educators.
- Working with the DOE to finalize the 2023–24 school calendar and permit SBO voting to begin.
You Should Know
Contract Empowerment & Enforcement
File reorganization grievances within two days of knowledge of a new program
If teachers in your school wish to grieve their programs or assignments for next school year, they must act quickly. Within two school days of knowledge of their new program, a teacher must ask you as the chapter leader to submit a Step 1 grievance. The online Step 1 grievance form is available only in the Chapter Leader Hub. Be sure to also print out a copy of this grievance and submit it, or have your teacher submit it, to the principal. The principal has two school days from the date he or she was notified to meet with the teacher and render a decision. If the grievance is unresolved, an appeal to the superintendent must be filed within two school days of the grievance conference, so contact your district representative immediately. The superintendent then has three school days to schedule and meet with the parties and four school days to write a decision. Please note: During the summer, the online grievance process is suspended as are the contractual timelines for filing, scheduling and hearing grievances. After June 27, reorganization grievances can be filed only when school resumes in September.
Health & Safety
City begins to install new door-locking system in elementary schools
The city has begun to implement its plan to lock doors when public schools are in session. Phase 1 focuses on elementary schools and pre-K sites. Installation of the new door-locking system in those schools and sites begins this month and is expected to be completed by September. Principals will receive training materials in the coming weeks, and all elementary school staff will be trained on the new system come September. Elementary school chapter leaders should talk to their principals about door-locking protocols in the coming weeks.
Air conditioning guidelines and complaints
During the 2023 official air-conditioning season from Wednesday, May 31, to Tuesday, Sept. 26, school room temperatures should be no lower than 78 degrees. There is no regulation mandating an upper temperature limit, only comfort guidelines. The UFT will address temperature complaints on a case-by-case basis with the DOE Division of School Facilities. Members who want to file a complaint should keep a log of the room temperature and also provide specific information including: Are the rooms in question interior rooms whose only source of air is provided by a mechanical ventilation system? If so, is the mechanical ventilation system working? Are the rooms overcrowded? Are the rooms occupied by special needs students? What are the room temperatures? For more information, read the City of New York Cooling Season Guidelines 2020.
Ask teachers to submit a Teacher to Teacher column
Is there a teacher in your school who has developed a novel or creative classroom strategy or unit of study? Do they have tips to share about collaborating with a co-teacher or encouraging classroom discussion? Encourage those teachers to share their ideas and expertise by writing a Teacher to Teacher column for the New York Teacher. If we publish it, we’ll pay the columnist $300. The column, which runs about 500-600 words, is a vehicle for creative and resourceful educators at all grade levels to share their tips, strategies and innovative methods for improving classroom instruction. The column is basically a “this works for me in my classroom, and maybe it can work for you, too” piece. Any topic that will help other teachers become better at their craft is fair game. Interested teachers should send a couple of paragraphs outlining their proposed column topic to Teacher to Teacher column ideas. You can get an idea of what we’re looking for by reading our published Teacher to Teacher columns.
Medical & Wellness
A podcast on the power of compassionate detachment in leadership
Multiple perspectives can deserve respect. In the latest episode of the UFT Member Assistance Program’s Classroom Café podcast, Sonya Brown, a retired teacher development specialist for the city Department of Education, explains the importance of balancing self-care with community care to experience the power of compassionate detachment. Now a transformational coach, restorative yoga teacher and interfaith chaplain, Brown encourages leaders to bring their entire selves to their roles and strive to achieve that crucial balance.
Register to vote in the primary by June 17
Alert colleagues, parents, and eligible students that the deadline to register to vote in the June 27 primary is Saturday, June 17. This year, New York City voters may choose among candidates for the City Council and district attorney in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. Members who have an ID issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles (driver's license, permit or non-driver ID) can register to vote online. Members who do not have a DMV-issued ID can print this form, fill it out and mail it to their local board of elections. The complete mailing address can be found on page two of the form. The application must be received by the board of elections no later than June 17.
Request your absentee ballot by June 12
The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for the June 27 primary is Monday, June 12. A board of elections must receive the absentee ballot application by letter or through the online absentee request portal by this date. In New York City, members can complete an online absentee ballot application or can call 1-866-VOTE-NYC and request an application by mail. Outside the five boroughs, you can call your county's board of elections to request an absentee ballot. Ballots must be returned and postmarked no later than primary day, which is June 27. You may also deliver the absentee ballot in person either at a poll site or at your county board of elections. See the UFT’s endorsements in the June 27 primary.
Salary & Personell
Excessing guidance for chapter leaders
After the union and public school advocates made a strong push to protect public schools, the DOE agreed this week that schools would be held harmless in their school budgets for register loss this September. This positive development should keep excessing to a minimum. Excessing should be limited to unique circumstances. If the DOE notifies your members this month that they may be excessed, please ensure the excessing proceeds according to established contractual protocols and state law, but also push your principal to maintain staffing levels and not excess staff. If the school has the money, it would do well to maintain staff as mandatory class sizes decrease as a result of the recent class-size law. Keep in mind that excessing letters mean that a person is in danger of being excessed. The DOE notifies members in June, but the actual excessing occurs in September. Notified members may either look for a new position through the Open Market Transfer Plan this summer or wait until the fall to see if a position remains open. Read the UFT’s Q&A on excessing. Excessed members lose their school position but keep their job, their salary and their benefits. Excessing happens when a school has more staff members in a given license than positions in that license. If excessing occurs in a particular title or license, the person with the fewest years of service at a school or work site is excessed first. The union has prepared a document to help you read a seniority list so you can see the order of excessing. (You must be logged in to the UFT website to access this document.) If your members are placed in excess in September, they then must register on the Open Market Transfer System. They may apply for any vacancies in their license area citywide or they may apply to any school regardless of vacancies. Excessing is covered in Article 17B in the DOE-UFT collective bargaining agreement. If you have questions, please contact your UFT district representative.
Employees must give 30 days’ notice before resigning
DOE pedagogue employees who plan to resign must give at least 30 calendar days’ notice, according to Chancellor's Regulations. Therefore, if a UFT-represented employee wants to resign (not retire) effective Tuesday, Sept. 5, the first day of work in the 2023–24 school year, that employee must submit a letter of resignation by Thursday, Aug. 4. Chapter leaders have reported some principals are asking members to add the word “irrevocable” to their letters of resignation. It is unnecessary since UFT-represented educators have a contractual right to withdraw their resignations at a later date. It’s important to note, however, that the person must have found a new position before submitting a withdrawal of resignation form to the DOE. According to the DOE, employees who resign without providing 30 calendar days’ notice will receive a problem code in their personnel files that flag them for review should they wish to return to teaching. Non-pedagogues like paraprofessionals and therapists, are only required to give two weeks’ notice. While there is no requirement to give notice for retirement, employees who are interested in taking terminal leave prior to retirement must also give 30 days’ notice.
See if your school received DOE funds for IEP intervention teacher
The School Allocation Memo for the centrally-funded special education intervention teacher (formerly known as IEP/Intervention Teacher) position has been released. The memo describes how the DOE selected schools to receive the allocation for the coming three-year cycle, how the funds can be used, and expectations for schools receiving the funding. An attached table at the bottom of the memo lists the schools that are receiving the allocation and the amount.
Results of the special election for Paraprofessionals Chapter
Priscilla Castro was elected chapter leader of the Paraprofessionals Chapter in the chapter’s special election. The following candidates were also declared elected: Renee Freeman (first vice chair), Migda Rodriguez (second vice chair), Sharon Anderson (secretary), Suzette Robbins (treasurer), and Deborah Harris and Carol Ascencio (executive board at large). The independent American Arbitration Association counted the mail-in ballots on May 26. The winning candidates will serve the balance of the term ending June 30, 2024.
Last chance to create a team for our 5K Family Run/Walk on June 10
Put together a team from your school or chapter to participate in the 10th annual 5K Family Run/Walk on Saturday, June 10, at Coney Island. The fee is $25 for adults and $15 for children age 12 or younger and benefits the UFT Disaster Relief Fund. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the walk/run begins at 9:30 a.m. at Maimonides Park, 1904 Surf Ave. The UFT will provide complimentary water, snacks and giveaways. You can run or walk as an individual or as part of a team. Sponsors can also pledge money for your participation. Post this flier on your UFT bulletin board.
UFT Honors tributes focus on members’ school careers
Has a UFT member from your school community recently died? Please consider memorializing their life on the UFT Honors website. The union’s tributes focus on the contributions these members made to their school communities and to our city. We share other aspects of their lives, too, to paint a fuller picture. If you know a UFT member, either in-service or retired, to include on the UFT Honors website, please submit the name. If you have any questions, please contact UFT Honors coordinator Cara Metz at email@example.com.
Recent Guidance and Agreements
- DOE school health policy (April 4, 2023)
- DOE summer 2023 calendar (March 2, 2023)
- Clarification on duties of centrally funded IEP teacher (March 7, 2023)
- DOE school health policy (Feb. 9, 2023)
- Digital classroom agreement for 2022-23 (Aug. 24, 2022)
- Personnel Memo No. 1 for 2022-23 (July 1, 2022)
Key Events & Deadlines
Puerto Rican Day Parade
March with the UFT at the nation's largest annual cultural celebration, the New York City Puerto Rican Day Parade. Join us to show your pride, meet with fellow school community members and enjoy the festivities.
Contact the UFT
- DOE members, call 212-331-6311.
- DOE functional chapter members, call 212-331-6312.
- A health benefit question? Call the Welfare Fund at 212-539-0500.