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Chapter Leader UpdateJune 9, 2022

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Snapshot

STANDING UNITED: UFT members from PS 130 in lower Manhattan wore orange on Friday, June 3, for National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

STANDING UNITED: UFT members from PS 130 in lower Manhattan wore orange on Friday, June 3, for National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

This Week's Focus

State bill would lower class sizes in New York City

Capping a yearlong push by educators and parents to lower class sizes, state lawmakers passed a bill on June 2 to cap the number of students per classroom in New York City public schools at 20 to 25, depending on the grade, by 2027. If signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul, the legislation would help bring New York City’s class sizes in line with the city suburbs and the rest of the state. UFT President Michael Mulgrew said smaller classes would boost student learning and improve teacher retention by making the profession more sustainable. “This legislation marks a milestone in the years-long struggle to bring the benefits of smaller classes to the city,” Mulgrew said. The state legislation calls for maximum class sizes of 20 in kindergarten through grade 3, 23 in grades 4-8, and 25 in high school. Read the New York Teacher article.


UFT pushes back on mayor’s proposed cuts to school budgets

As Gov. Kathy Hochul considers signing state legislation to reduce class sizes in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams is threatening cuts to next year’s school budgets even as he sits on billions of dollars of federal education aid. Adams, this week, told principals to expect large cuts to their school budgets for next school year due to the drop in enrollment, and some UFT members received preliminary excessing notices as a result. Find out how much the mayor is threatening to cut from your school’s budget. If you or your members are on Twitter, tweet at the mayor to tell him why our students need more funding to recover from the pandemic, not less. 

This year, many New York City public schools had class sizes comparable to the rest of the state, but the threatened budget cuts would roll back those gains. The mayor’s executive budget eliminates $375 million for education, offset by some federal funding. But New York City has spent only $3 billion of the $7.6 billion it received in federal stimulus funding for public schools. Gov. Hochul has committed to foundation aid increases for New York City to add $1.3 billion in annual state aid for city schools by 2024. “The city has the money,” Mulgrew said. “Educators and parents fought for federal funds to stabilize schools as we moved through the pandemic. This additional funding was supposed to hold schools harmless.” 


Join us at the March for Our Lives on Saturday, June 11

The UFT will be out in force at the student-led NYC March for Our Lives rally on Saturday, June 11, a national day of action to protest gun violence. Due to a permit issue, the organizers moved the rally from Washington Square Park to Cadman Plaza Park in downtown Brooklyn. The UFT contingent will gather in Whitman Park, in front of the Office of Emergency Management, next to Cadman Plaza Park, starting at 11:30 a.m. Look for the UFT banners. Then, we will march over the Brooklyn Bridge to Zucotti Park on Broadway in lower Manhattan. 

Register now


File reorganization grievances by June 28

If your members wish to grieve their programs or assignments, they must act quickly. Within two school days of knowledge of his or her new program, a member must ask you as chapter leader to submit a Step 1 grievance no later than Tuesday, June 28. The online grievance form is now available only in the Chapter Leader Hub. Be sure to also print out a copy of this grievance and submit it, or have your member submit it, to the principal. The principal has two school days from the date he or she was notified to meet with the member 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 UFT district representative immediately. The superintendent then has three school days to schedule and meet 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 28, reorganization grievances can be filed only when school resumes in September.

Chapter Leader Checklist

  • Make sure new hires have enrolled in the UFT: Schools hire staff throughout the school year. Union enrollment is not automatic. Please make a point of introducing yourself to every new hire in the UFT bargaining unit in your building, offering your support and asking them to fill out a UFT enrollment card or to enroll online. Check the nonmember report in the Chapter Leader Hub to see who hasn’t signed up yet.
  • Access UFT certificates for your chapter's deserving graduates: You may present UFT certificates of excellence to the most deserving students in each subject area as well as early childhood classrooms and pre-K centers. Download the certificates of excellence in academic achievement and extraordinary effort. For more information, read the letter from UFT President Michael Mulgrew and George Altomare, the director of the UFT Professional Committees.
  • 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.

Work in progress

The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate: 

  • COVID safety and health policies for summer school and next school year.
  • Finding a common-sense way to roll out the dyslexia screening that does not unnecessarily further burden UFT members.
  • Lawsuits to protect the due process rights of UFT members who were abruptly terminated for noncompliance with the vaccine mandate or on suspicion of submitting fraudulent proof of vaccination.

School Chapters on UFT.org

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You Should Know

CONTRACT EMPOWERMENT & ENFORCEMENT

Summer grievance procedures

After the last day of school, the online grievance process is suspended. All grievances must be filed at your UFT borough office (summer school grievances). Grievances relating to the regular school year can be filed only once school resumes in September. Chapter leaders may again file Step 1 grievances online from the Chapter Leader Hub on the first day of school. If you have any questions, please contact your borough office. For UFT borough office summer hours, see the item in Salary and Personnel.

Don’t miss DOE’s June 17 deadline for session-time SBOs

The DOE set Friday, June 17, as the deadline for principals to finalize their school’s session times for next school year. Schools should make every effort to have any session-time SBOs completed by June 17. The DOE may not approve session-time SBOS completed after that date. All SBO votes for a school must be conducted on a single day. The last day to conduct SBO votes that do not include session-time changes is Tuesday, June 28. See the SBO section of the UFT website for more information.


HEALTH & SAFETY

City makes masks for 2- to 4-year-olds and their educators optional

Citing the decrease in COVID cases in New York City in recent weeks, the Adams administration announced today that beginning on Monday, June 13, masks will become optional for children ages 2 to 4 and the adults who work with them in all early childhood settings. The city strongly recommends that New Yorkers of all ages continue to wear masks indoors, and the Department of Education will continue to make masks available for any child or school staff member who wishes to continue wearing them.

CDC lowers New York City’s COVID alert level

The CDC recently downgraded the city’s COVID alert level from high to medium, according to its COVID Data Tracker. Hospitalizations have declined roughly 10% in New York State over the past two weeks. The New York City Department of Health, however, still lists the city on high alert, according to its COVID alert level website. Reports of COVID in schools continued to decrease for the third week in a row.


INSTRUCTION

Clarification on posting the centrally funded IEP teacher

The centrally funded IEP/Intervention teacher is a three-year instructional position. The current three-year cycle began in the 2020–21 school year and concludes at the end of the 2022–23 school year. The teacher selected for this position in the 2020–21 school year will continue in the position for the remainder of the three-year cycle if the school remains eligible for the allocation for the position and the teacher continues to be eligible. Teachers who enter the position in the middle of the three-year cycle (in the 2021–22 or 2022–23 school years) will remain in the position until the cycle ends in June 2023. Schools that receive the allocation for funding of the centrally funded IEP teacher are required to repost the position if it is currently vacant or was vacated mid-term because the teacher left the job or received a U rating.

Book giveaway in Queens Village this Saturday

Teachers and paraprofessionals from across the city are welcome to attend the First Book event on Saturday, June 11, coming to PS 135 in District 29 in Queens. We’re giving away 40,000 books and won’t stop until they’re all gone. The book giveaway, hosted by the UFT and the AFT, begins at 9 a.m. in the PS 135 schoolyard at 207-11 89th Avenue in Queens Village. Teachers and paraprofessionals may select 50 books, and parents may select 25. Members should bring bags, carts or another container to take their books. Teachers and paraprofessionals must register in advance. For more information, see the event flier.


MEDICAL & WELLNESS

UFT podcast on talking to teens about mindfulness

Mindfulness strategies can help teenagers take back some control over their emotions and mental health. In this episode of the Member Assistance Program’s Classroom Café, Lexi Mulee, a licensed mental health clinician who works with teens, discusses some short, innovative approaches to mindfulness that may pique a teen's interest including mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a technique that can calm anxiety and help both teens and adults manage emotions. Listen and subscribe to Classroom Café wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss an episode.

Listen to the podcast


POLITICAL ACTION

Request your absentee ballot for the primary by June 13

The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for the June 28 primary is Monday, June 13. Once again, those affected by COVID-19 or who fear contracting the virus may claim a "temporary illness" and submit an absentee ballot application. Members who reside in New York City or elsewhere in New York State can contact the New York State Board of Elections online to request an absentee ballot. New York City residents can also 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 a paper absentee ballot application. Ballots must be returned and postmarked no later than primary day, which is Tuesday, June 28. You may also deliver the absentee ballot in person either to a poll site or your county board of elections.

Early voting in the primary begins on June 18

UFT members are encouraged to vote in this month’s New York State primary. Early voting begins on Saturday, June 18, and runs through Sunday, June 26. Primary Day is Tuesday, June 28. This year, New York City voters may choose among candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, New York State Assembly, judges and party positions. The primary for candidates running for New York State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 23. See the union’s political endorsements on the UFT website. See the NYC Board of Elections website for complete information on New York City early voting dates and locations.

Find your polling site


SALARY & PERSONNEL

Members on leave will no longer be removed from direct deposit

In a true victory for UFT members who take leaves of absence, the Department of Education informed payroll secretaries that they should no longer remove members from the direct deposit system when a member goes on leave. Secretaries must first manually stop the paychecks that are issued until the leave is processed in the system. Once the leave is processed by SOLAS, the system will automatically cease generating checks. Paychecks will cease until the member returns, but the onerous process of removing the member and restoring the member to the DOE’s payroll system will no longer complicate the process. This change in protocol keeps direct deposit intact, which will be particularly helpful for those members on shorter leaves.

Excessing guidance for chapter leaders

If the DOE notifies your members this month that they may be excessed, please ensure excessing proceeds according to established contractual protocols and state 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.

Make sure teachers meet deadlines to remain certified

With summer around the corner, make sure your newer members know about the upcoming summer deadline to maintain their teaching certification. Teachers in their fifth year of teaching under an initial certificate must apply for their professional certificate at least six months before their initial certificate expires. Read more about keeping a certificate up to date. When in doubt, members can reach out to an educational liaison in their UFT borough office or a certification specialist at 212-331-6311, Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.


EVERYTHING ELSE

Register for Pride Month’s Unapologetically US conference on June 25-26

The NYSUT PRIDE Committee, in conjunction with the UFT and the AFT, proudly announces Unapologetically US, a conference designed to address LGBTQ+ issues and how they affect our students. The two-day conference, which runs from Saturday, June 25, to Sunday, June 26, will take place in Shanker Hall at UFT headquarters, beginning on Saturday at noon. Attendance is limited, due to social distancing. If you would like to attend, please email your registration form to event organizer Anthony Harmon at aharmon@uft.org by Friday, June 17. There’s a $25 registration fee. Please note: Hotel accommodations are not necessary; they were provided for out-of-town participants only. The UFT will march in the NYC Pride Parade on Sunday, June 26. Stay tuned for details.


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