Chapter Leader UpdateDec. 16, 2021
Chapter Leader UpdateDec. 16, 2021
This Week's Focus
Class size fight will continue in 2022
In a final act of cowardice, Council Speaker Corey Johnson moved up the date of the City Council’s final meeting to Dec. 15, so that the class size bill will not, for procedural reasons, have the chance to be voted on before the end of this year. We are disappointed by this setback, but our advocacy has moved us further along on this journey. Because of our hard work promoting this bill, it has gained much attention and many incoming City Council members have already voiced their support for it. Council members come and go, as do mayors, but our students still sit in overcrowded classrooms and we still teach them day in and day out as best we can. Smaller class sizes are an issue of public health, education and — most of all — equity. We cannot and will not give up on this cause. We will work with the next City Council, the governor and Albany legislators. We have built a movement of educators and parents for smaller class sizes, and we will keep pushing until we get our kids what they deserve.
Information related to Dec. 15 Delegate Assembly
UFT Welfare Fund Assistant Director Joseph Usatch presented this PowerPoint on the new NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan for Medicare-eligible retirees at the Delegate Assembly. Here are the UFT Welfare Fund notes for each slide in case you want to make the same presentation at your next chapter meeting. UFT President Michael Mulgrew also promised to share the timekeeping codes for COVID-related leaves and absences and the field guidance on the DOE-UFT digital classroom agreement sent to principals on Dec. 14. Here also is the original DOE-UFT agreement on remote learning, signed on Sept. 1, 2021, which covers members’ rights and responsibilities regarding remote instruction for this school year only.
Request a UFT representative to speak at your school
UFT officers and union reps from various departments are available to visit your school and speak with the members of your chapter. You may request a visit from the following UFT offices and officers:
- Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds to discuss issues involving academic high schools
- Vice President for Career and Technical Education High Schools Leo Gordon to discuss issues involving CTE schools
- Vice President for Education Mary Vaccaro to discuss teacher evaluation, support for English language learners, professional development, mentoring and other education topics
- Vice President for Elementary Schools Karen Alford to discuss issues involving elementary schools and early childhood issues
- Vice President for Middle Schools Richard Mantell to discuss issues involving middle schools
- Certification Services Department to discuss licensing, certification and the acquisition of CTLE hours
- Contract Empowerment Department to discuss the operational issues resolution process, paperwork issues, SBOs and other contractual rights
- Safety and Health Department to discuss health and safety issues and incident reporting
- Welfare Fund, to discuss prescription drugs, the UFT optical benefit and other supplemental health benefits
Assist paras who have received termination notices
The DOE recently sent termination notices to paraprofessionals who have not completed their certification requirements. These paras should log into their TEACH account on the State Education Department’s website and find out what they are missing. Paraprofessionals who have received notice of termination for lack of college credits can apply between Feb. 1 and March 31 for the Career Training Program for the summer semester. The program pays tuition for from three to six credits per semester for undergraduate study at participating colleges and universities. Two and a half hours per week of release time and/or a summer stipend are also provided to support study. Paraprofessionals who have received a notice of termination and have specific questions should contact the UFT’s certification specialists Monica Christie or Jeremiah Bornemann at 212-331-6311. Members with questions about CTLE hours should read this UFT Q&A or call the UFT.
Members can call the UFT during the winter break
Make sure your members know they can call the union at 212-331-6311 with questions about their rights and benefits, including their Welfare Fund benefits, during the last two weeks of December. Members can call from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Thursday, Dec. 23, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday, Dec. 27, to Thursday, Dec. 30. The union’s offices will be closed on Friday, Dec. 24, and Friday, Dec. 31.
Chapter Leader Checklist
- Remind members to update their contact information: With UFT elections for leadership slated for this coming spring, it’s important that the union have up-to-date mailing addresses, email addresses and phone numbers for all its members so they receive all election-related information and can participate fully in the election process. At your next chapter leader meeting, please remind members to notify the UFT if they have recently moved or changed their email address or phone number. Members can call the UFT at 212-331-6311, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., to update their contact information. If you have any questions, reach out to your district representative.
- Have new hires joined the UFT? Full UFT membership makes your chapter stronger and amplifies the voice of your members at your school. We recently optimized our nonmember report to display the most accurate account of union membership in your school. Please check the nonmember report (you’ll have to log in to the website to access it) this week to confirm that all new hires, including any para subs, at your school have joined the UFT. If they have not, please urge them to complete the online union enrollment form and then recheck the report in a week to confirm that they did enroll. If it’s easier, you can ask new hires to fill out a paper union enrollment card. If you don’t have any enrollment cards on hand, please ask your district rep for more.
- Secure personal items and equipment during winter break: Chapter leaders should tell members to protect themselves against theft by securing all personal belongings and valuable school equipment such as laptops, camcorders and projectors during the break. Read this story for more tips on the UFT website. Please distribute the NYPD Lock It or Lose It flier in your members’ mailboxes and post it on your UFT bulletin board.
Work in progress
The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate:
- Access to COVID-19 testing for members who work in 3K and pre-K sites
- Issues with how the Situation Room is handling COVID cases in schools
- Creating a negotiating committee for the 2022 contract
- Creating bargaining committees for each DOE functional chapter
You Should Know
HEALTH & SAFETY
Update on issues with the Situation Room
As the current mayoral administration heads to the door, we are looking into several reports of issues with the Situation Room. With COVID cases on the rise, it is crucial the Situation Room remain vigilant and fully functional; we cannot accept a sub-par performance. We are in discussion with the Situation Room to get to the root of the reported problems and make sure they are fixed. We will keep you updated.
Transportation reimbursement and MetroCards for SERS
Students who are eligible to receive curb-to-school (specialized) transportation busing to school and receive Special Education Recovery Services (SERS) may get a MetroCard or reimbursement for transportation. The SERS supervisor or the principal must confirm the student’s eligibility for reimbursement, including confirming the validity of receipts and the child’s attendance on the applicable dates. Upon approval of the documentation, the principal submits to the DOE the SERS travel reimbursement form for schools. The DOE approves and processes the requests and then sends checks to families. This reimbursement process does not apply to travel to and from related service sessions. Read more on the DOE’s Transportation Resources InfoHub.
STARS updates for SERS
Beginning Dec. 20, two updates to STARS will be available for schools to support their implementation of academic interventions and Special Education Recovery Services (SERS):
- Scheduling and Outcome Capture Report: This report will display scheduling information for students receiving either academic interventions and/or Special Education Recovery Services. In addition, the report will also capture the most recent progress outcome entered in STARS.
- Student and Teacher Record Date Span Adjustment: Functionality is added to the STARS Classroom academic intervention and Special Education Recovery Services tool that will now enable schools to adjust individual student completion dates, including for students who have completed an academic intervention and/or Special Education Recovery Services.
Webinar on entering encounter attendance for SERS
Special education staff who enter or work with SESIS encounter attendance information may attend a DOE webinar on encounter attendance on Tuesday, Dec. 21, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. If your members can’t attend the session, a recording will be available afterwards on the DOE’s Special Education Guidance page for DOE providers. Read about other items pertaining to special education in the DOE Principals Digest.
MEDICAL & WELLNESS
A phone and chat helpline for students
The UFT’s Positive Learning Collaborative has forged a partnership with Vibrant Emotional Health to create a phone and chat helpline that offers free, confidential mental health support to students and to parents calling on their children's behalf. Please help us spread the word with members and parents in your school so our students receive the help they need to thrive both inside and outside of the classroom. The helpline is open from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12 midnight, and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Borrowing from your retirement funds
As a UFT member, you have two sources from which to borrow money. If you are in pension tiers 3, 4 or 6, you can borrow from your Qualified Pension Plan against your Member Contribution Accumulation Fund and against part of your additional member contributions. You may also borrow from your Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) account. The maximum amount you can borrow from your pension and your TDA is $50,000 provided you have sufficient funds in those accounts. Loans from both accounts are normally available within two weeks after you apply and under normal circumstances are not taxable. Both have convenient repayment plans. The interest rate for TDA loans is 7% per year and the interest rate for Qualified Pension Plan loans is 6% per year. Borrowing money is a serious financial decision. Be sure to compare the terms of TRS/BERS loans to other loans to understand all of the ramifications. For more information, see the Teachers’ Retirement System website.
UFT Staten Island borough office is moving
The UFT’s borough office on Staten Island is moving to 1200 South Ave. in the Bloomfield section. The new office is expected to open in early January. The new location will provide Staten Island members with expanded meeting, classroom and consulting spaces along with additional parking. More than 9,000 in-service UFT members and more than 4,000 retirees work and live on Staten Island. The UFT’s former office in the Eltingville section has closed. Staten Island members who need assistance before the new site opens should call 212-331-6311 or email their district representative.
Outstanding Paraprofessional Awards nominations
Each year, the UFT recognizes outstanding paraprofessionals who have contributed to their schools, their communities and the UFT. Use this form to nominate a full-time paraprofessional for an award in 2022. The deadline is Jan. 21, 2022, at 3 p.m. The form must be completed in full; incomplete forms will not be processed. Paraprofessionals Chapter Leader Shelvy Young-Abrams will contact winners. Paraprofessionals may not self-nominate, and winners from prior years are ineligible.
Tell members about the School Secretaries Seminar
The School Secretaries Chapter plans to hold its Annual School Secretaries Seminar in person on Jan. 29, 2022, at 9 a.m. Doors open at 8 a.m. for breakfast. Workshops will cover the defined-benefit pension, how to keep track of employee work hours, operational issues and contractual leaves. Space is limited due to CDC guidelines so encourage school secretaries to sign up early once registration opens.
Recent guidance and agreements
- Remote per-session work for the 2021-22 school year (November 2021)
- Mayor's Personnel Order No. 2021/2 on excused leave to get own children vaccinated (Nov. 8, 2021)
- Guidance for schools regarding staff vaccination exemptions or accommodations (Nov. 2021)
- DOE-UFT agreement on social-emotional screenings (Nov. 1, 2021)
- Special Education Recovery Services agreement (Sept. 17, 2021)
- DOE-UFT agreement on Operational Issues (Sept. 10, 2021)
- Personnel Memo No. 1 of the 2021-22 school year (Sept. 10, 2021)
- DOE-UFT Memorandum of Agreement on remote instruction for the 2021-22 school year (Sept. 1, 2021)
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.