Chapter Leader UpdateJune 3, 2021
Chapter Leader UpdateJune 3, 2021
HERE’S TO THE WINNERS: Nia Franklin (right) of the Manhattan HS for Environmental Studies, here with her mom Towanda Daniels, was one of 134 graduating seniors honored at the UFT’s Albert Shanker College Scholarship virtual ceremony on June 2.
This Week's Focus
SBOs can now move forward
Now that an agreement has been reached between the UFT and the DOE on the workday for the 2021-2022 school year, chapter leaders and principals may use the school-based option process if they want to modify the default school day of six hours and 20 minutes, Monday through Friday, with 150 minutes of extended time. Single-session schools have two new approved SBO options — a six-hour 50-minute school day and a six-hour 50-minute workday including 30 minutes without students — in addition to four other pre-approved SBOs that remain in effect. All SBO votes will take place electronically using the Election Buddy platform. The SBO section of the UFT website has a detailed description of the SBO process that chapter leaders must follow, an updated SBO manual, an updated SBO PowerPoint and sample SBO templates for session time/school time reconfiguration, parent teacher conferences, programs/schedules, professional activity periods, compensatory time positions and pre-approved SBOs.
SBO for out-of-classroom comp-time positions related to special ed
Before schools create any out-of-classroom special education compensatory-time positions, they should first prioritize satisfying IEP mandates and maintaining special education compliance. The UFT will consider the approval of special education compensatory-time school-based options only if: a) your school complies with special education regulations; b) there are no special education vacancies; and c) all student IEPs are implemented as written. You must provide a copy of the compensatory-time posting to your UFT district representative for review and approval. No compensatory-time position should include writing or approving IEPs for students not served by the staff member. Comp-time duties may not include serving as the designated representative at IEP meetings where the purpose is to ensure particular recommendations or discourage IEP team members from freely expressing opinions on students’ needs. The Special Education Standard Operating Procedures Manual clearly states that these activities are not permitted. If you have questions concerning the SBO approval process for these positions, please contact your UFT district representative.
Early retirement incentive off the table
Despite all the UFT’s efforts, City Hall will not offer an early retirement incentive for any DOE employee this year. Under the legislation passed in Albany in April, the city had until May 31 to finalize details of an early retirement incentive program with the UFT, and it failed to do so by the deadline. “With the influx of federal COVID relief funds for education, the city is now focused on hiring more educators, not reducing its workforce,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “We know this is disappointing and yet another way we feel let down by City Hall this year.” State lawmakers authorized an early retirement incentive in New York City in March when the city’s economic outlook was still unclear. By the end of May, billions of dollars of new federal funding were flowing into city coffers. The union tried fruitlessly for months to get the city to finalize an agreement.
Help us get money in the budget for smaller class sizes and intervention teams
For the first time in decades, we have the federal funding to make meaningful, lasting changes — for our schools and students. We have already accomplished much of our UFT 5-Point Recovery Plan, but we still need the mayor and the City Council to earmark funding in the city budget for the most important pieces — smaller class sizes and intervention teams at every school. Let’s come together as a union to support the cause and spread the word. Join the movement for smaller class sizes and intervention teams at every school. No one knows better than us what #OurKidsNeed. When you sign up, we’ll suggest things you can do on social media and other actions you can take to make our goals a reality.
ATRs to fill regular positions in the fall
Members of the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) who have positive ratings will fill regular assignments in September in schools where they are needed. In most cases, ATRs with positive ratings will be permanently assigned to the same school to which they were temporarily assigned this year. ATR members should be notified of these assignments by Friday, June 18. Superintendents and other district staff will find funded vacancies within their districts for all newly excessed staff who have not found a job through the Open Market by Aug. 7 in preparation for the upcoming school year. With this policy change, the DOE acknowledges what we have long known: Members of the ATR pool make valuable contributions to the schools and students they serve when given the opportunity to do so.
Celebrate Pride Month at UFT events
June is Pride Month. The UFT has been and continues to be an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community and celebrates their humanity with pride. In a year where eight anti-LGBTQ bills have already become law in states this year and 10 more await governors’ signatures, we are witnessing the most intensive assault on LGBTQ rights, particularly transgender rights, in years. To demonstrate its support for the LGBTQ community, the UFT Pride Committee has assembled celebrations and events throughout June, beginning with its annual Daniel Dromm scholarship ceremony, which will be held virtually on Saturday, June 5, at 12:30 p.m. Sign up for some or all of these events on the UFT website events calendar and show support for our LGBTQ members, students and families.
Chapter Leader Checklist
- Share UFT school election results with your chapter: If your school chapter is holding an election by phone for chapter leader, delegate and/or para rep this month, your election chair will be notified of the results about two days after the election. Please share the news with your chapter. If you have questions or concerns, call the UFT Election Hotline at 212-331-6310.
- Functional chapter elections are underway: The American Arbitration Association is running elections for the following functional chapters: attendance teachers, LYFE, home instruction, paraprofessionals, sign language interpreters, social workers and psychologists, school counselors, OT/PTs and Hearing Education Services. Ballots have been sent to UFT members in these functional chapters. If a member of a functional chapter has not received a ballot by now, the member should immediately call the American Arbitration Association at 800-529-5218 or use this online duplicate ballot request form. The sole candidates running for office in the union’s other functional chapters were declared elected.
- Extensions of probation don’t need immediate signatures: Probationers whose principals want to extend their probations do not have to sign the extension of probation immediately. Members have a 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 to sign or not. You should contact your district rep each time a member receives an extension of probation. If your principal is insisting that the member sign the extension without the proper time for the extension agreement to be reviewed, advise the member not to sign and contact your district rep or borough office immediately.
- Sign up for the next Delegate Assembly: As your school's elected union representative, your participation at Delegate Assembly meetings is a crucial part of the UFT policymaking process. And now that these meetings are virtual, attending is more convenient than ever. You received your email invitation to the June 16 Delegate Assembly earlier today.
Work in progress
The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate:
- Early planning for opening of schools in September
School Chapters on UFT.org
You Should Know
Health and Safety
Medical Accommodations: Staff for 2020-21 School Year
Since the DOE will not have a full remote learning option in the fall, COVID-19-related accommodations to work remotely are unavailable for staff next school year. All current COVID-19-related remote work accommodations expire on June 30. The DOE will not grant blanket accommodations for high-risk populations as it did this school year in response to the COVID-19 crisis. DOE employees may apply for the regular, pre-pandemic reasonable accommodation. The application will be available online later this summer for school-based employees applying for an accommodation to begin in September. All applications will require up-to-date, supporting medical documentation and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis consistent with the law.
Follow DOE guidance for NX grading in secondary schools
The DOE says a student must achieve mastery and/or achieve learning outcomes to receive a passing grade this school year; otherwise, they should receive an NX. This grading policy applies even to those students who did not show any engagement throughout this school year. Students graded NX may recover the credit depending upon their past level of engagement. NX grades may be converted to a numeric grade when a student demonstrates sufficient mastery of skills or if the student fails to demonstrate such mastery by a relevant deadline set by the DOE.
UFT certificates for graduates
The UFT’s officers and the chairpersons of the professional committees have a long tradition of supporting and rewarding our schools’ graduates with a certificate for excellence in academic achievement. Certificates may be presented to the most deserving students in each subject area. The certificates of excellence in academic achievement and extraordinary effort reside in the chapter leader tools section of the UFT website (you must be logged in to gain access). For more information, read the letter from UFT President Michael Mulgrew and George Altomare, the director of the UFT Professional Committees.
State Identification Test for remote ELLs
The New York State Education Department released a memo this week that will allow a special administration of the New York State Identification Test for English Language Learners (NYSITELL) in August and September to English language learners and provisionally-identified ELLs who had fully remote learning in the 2020-21 school year and did not participate in the spring 2021 New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT). Schools may use the new NYSITELL scores to determine levels of mandated services for ELLs during the 2021-22 school year. If you have any questions about this policy, please contact Katherine Kurjakovic at KKurjakovic@uft.org.
Free career and college counseling for HS juniors and seniors
As part of the UFT 5-Point Recovery Plan, all New York City public school juniors and seniors now have access to free college and career planning. These one-hour sessions will help students develop post-secondary plans including technical assistance with applications, financial aid guidance, interview preparation and more. Seniors who are interested in attending CUNY or SUNY can also connect with a CUNY or SUNY case manager, who can help arrange tutoring, academic support and planning resources. To participate in this program, students or their parents should call 212-331-6329 for an appointment.
Medical and Wellness
MAP careline for immediate support
The union has created a new careline, offered through the Member Assistance Program, for UFT members to receive help if they’re dealing with mental health challenges or emotional duress caused by the pandemic. Please let your members know they may call 212-331-6322 and speak with a licensed clinician from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. The clinician will assess, engage and refer the member to other union programs or outside services.
Early voting begins on June 12
UFT members are encouraged to vote in the upcoming June 22 Primary in New York City, in which voters will determine the Democratic nominees for mayor as well as many other positions. Early voting begins on Saturday, June 12, and runs through Sunday, June 20. The office of mayor, city comptroller and four borough presidents are open because the current occupants are term-limited as are 35 of the City Council’s 51 members. The Manhattan district attorney position is also up for grabs. While the other elected positions are part of the new ranked-choice voting system, the Manhattan DA election is not part of it; Manhattan voters may select only one candidate. See the union’s political endorsements on the UFT website.
How ranked-choice voting works
New York City will use ranked-choice voting for the first time during the June 22 Democratic Primary. Voters can select up to five candidates in order of preference, first through fifth, for each municipal office including mayor and city comptroller. Selecting a candidate as your fifth choice may still end up being a vote for that candidate so do not rank on your ballot any candidate whom you do not support. Here’s how ranked-choice voting works: Any candidate who garners more than 50% of the first-choice votes is the winner. If no one reaches that threshold, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated and the votes are redistributed to the remaining candidates. If your first choice is eliminated, for example, your vote passes to your second choice, and so on. Whoever finally receives 50% of the vote wins.
Salary and Personnel
Opportunities for special education teachers
The Statement of Continued Eligibility (SOCE) is a pathway through which special education teachers can become certified to teach one or more subject areas in a special class in grades 7-12. Individuals must apply for the SOCE through their TEACH account and pay the application fee by Wednesday, June 30. Special education teachers can complete the SOCE requirements within three years of the application date or within two evaluations of the application, whichever comes first, with one exception: The teaching experience requirement must be completed by June 30.
UFT delivers 2,000 checks to members owed money by the DOE
This spring, the UFT facilitated the delivery of more than 2,000 paychecks to union members who were owed money by the city Department of Education. The union reached out to these members — who receive paper checks because either they haven’t signed up for direct deposit or they recently returned from a leave of absence — starting in February via phone calls and emails. The UFT made more than 3,000 phone calls in the attempt to connect 1,614 members with the first 2,210 checks the union received. “We weren’t able to reach everyone, but not for lack of trying,” said UFT Assistant Secretary Michael Sill, the union’s director of personnel, payroll and special projects. These paper checks are traditionally sent to the member’s payroll school but when the pandemic hit and schools closed, the DOE scrambled to come up with a system for check distribution. The UFT convinced the DOE to send the unclaimed checks to the union and said that it would make a full court press to track down the members and get them their money. If members wish to claim an undelivered check, or if their DOE check has expired, they should reach out to the DOE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
School-based dean positions available now
The DOE-UFT collective bargaining agreement allows the establishment of one dean for up to 500 students, two deans for 500-1,000 students, and three deans for enrollment over 1,000 (using the prior Oct. 31 register) in elementary, middle and high schools without an SBO vote, by using this specific central dean posting listed below. Review the Dean Position FAQ for more detailed information and guidance. Additional dean positions or positions created without this central dean posting require an SBO vote.
Join the UFT’s 5K Family Run/Walk
The UFT will host its first fully in-person event on Sunday, June 13, with its seventh annual 5K Family Run/Walk! Organize a team from your school chapter and come celebrate the beginning of the return to normal. We missed last year because of the pandemic, and we can't wait to see you and your members for this year’s event, which is organized by the union’s Middle School Division. We have a new, more convenient location this year at Flushing Meadow Corona Park in Queens. (We’re meeting at the boat rental parking lot.) We’ll provide complimentary water, snacks and giveaways for each participant and a chance to win prizes. The registration fee is $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 or younger. All proceeds go to support the UFT Disaster Relief Fund.
Save the date for the annual Middle School Conference
On Thursday, June 17, join us as the annual Middle School Division Conference and Awards honors its members. In recognition of this year’s extraordinary circumstances, members will receive awards for their work strengthening and supporting the chapter, or union; promoting the health, safety and wellbeing of colleagues, students and the school community, who have demonstrated a commitment to education. Registration information will be available soon.
Chapter Leader Communities
Share ideas with fellow chapter leaders in your district and find answers to questions about union rights and benefits.