Chapter Leader UpdateMarch 16, 2023
Chapter Leader UpdateMarch 16, 2023
This Week's Focus
Lawmakers hear our “no more charter schools” message
We showed the power of our union when more than 900 UFT members and parents traveled to Albany for UFT Lobby Day on March 13. Members met face to face with their state representatives and told them why the governor’s plan to expand charter schools in New York City would hurt our public schools. Our efforts made a difference: The next day, leaders in the State Senate and State Assembly formally rejected the governor’s proposal to allow more charter schools to open in New York City. The battle is not over until the governor and the Legislature finalize the state budget, which is due by April 1, but it is a significant step. UFT members also asked lawmakers to increase state school aid and support the rest of the UFT’s 2023 legislative priorities, including state funding for UFT Teacher Centers, the Positive Learning Collaborative and United Community Schools, reform of Tier 6 of the retirement system and more career and technical education programs. Check out our Instagram story and see our Lobby Day photo gallery.
Organize a grade-in at your school on March 30
t was great to see all of you who attended a contract campaign session on March 7 or 14 about mobilizing this month around our need for more respect and autonomy in the workplace. Now it’s time to organize your chapter’s participation in our next citywide Day of Action. On Thursday, March 30, schools across the city will bring their grading, paperwork and planning work to a public area such as a cafe or a park or in front of their school to illustrate the total amount of work they have to do outside the instructional day. Here is a grade-in checklist to help you plan a successful action and here are signs that you can print and use. Don’t forget to fill out this online form to let us know about your grade-in or other actions your chapter is planning. It will be helpful for us when assigning UFT photographers and reporters. If March 30 doesn’t work for your school, pick another day that week for the grade-in. Here is a menu of other school-based actions you can organize in March to drum up community awareness about our need for a fair contract.
See the full mobilization toolkit
New SBO section in Chapter Leader Hub
Beginning on March 20, there will be a new section in the Chapter Leader Hub where you can see a record of the school-based options (SBOs) that your school chapter approved for the 2022-23 school year. It was the top request from chapter leaders on our survey following the launch of the Chapter Leader Hub in 2022, so we made this enhancement a priority. Now you can see the ballot and the results of your SBO votes for this school year. The link to that report will be at the top of the Chapter Leader Hub, next to your school’s reports for grievances and COPE. Moving forward, all approved SBOs will be stored in the Chapter Leader Hub so it will become a valuable historical record, too, over time. See the item below in the Contract Empowerment and Enforcement section on beginning the discussion about SBOs for the upcoming school year.
UFT calls for more school funding in city budget
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the mayor’s proposed cuts to education funding in the city’s preliminary budget are uncalled for given that New York State has increased its school aid, almost $600 million in federal COVID relief funds remain unspent and the City Council estimates that the city will receive $5.2 billion more in tax revenue than the Mayor’s Office projects. “With such an infusion of funding available to our city’s schools, why are we considering an executive budget that would make $500 million in cuts to schools?” he asked. Those cuts, he said, “will compromise our ability to meet our school communities’ needs in coming years.” Mulgrew said the city budget must include more education aid to implement the new class-size law; pay for the hiring of more school social workers, psychologists and counselors; support migrant students and other newcomers to our school communities; and expand career and technical education.
Send us photos of your celebration of the UFT’s 63rd anniversary
Sixty-three years ago today — on March 16, 1960 — the UFT was founded. It’s an important moment to reflect on where we came from, how the union’s founders bravely fought for the rights we have today, and how we are part of a historical continuum of struggle for dignity and respect in the workplace. If you brought a cake, organized a group activity or made a card to mark this milestone in the union’s history, please send a photo to email@example.com.
Chapter Leader Checklist
To Do #1
Nomination deadline in Paraprofessionals Chapter election is March 22
By now, you should have posted the election notice for this spring’s Paraprofessionals Chapter special election on your UFT bulletin board. Paraprofessionals in good standing who want to run for one of seven vacant chapter positions must collect at least 50 paraprofessional signatures on the nominating petition (also available in all UFT borough offices). The deadline for submitting the nomination petitions and an optional candidate statement to the union is Wednesday, March 22, at 5 p.m. See the Paraprofessionals Chapter election section of the UFT website.
To Do #2
Check your school's member report on the Chapter Leader Hub
Now that the DOE has lifted its hiring freeze, your school may have recently hired paraprofessionals or other staff. Please check your school's member report in the Chapter Leader Hub for new hires. Then reach out to welcome these new staff members and encourage them to enroll in the UFT.
To Do #3
Have you submitted your consultation committee summary?
Your consultation committee summary for your February meeting with your principal is due this week. Please submit your summary via the Chapter Leader Hub. Submission of meeting summaries will be a factor in the size of your supplementary stipend in June.
To Do #4
Tell members to keep track of students on their rosters
Remind teachers that the amount of time that students are in their class can affect their MOSL rating. They should keep an eye on their rosters and take notice of when students enter and drop off the roster.
To Do #5
Nominate your chapter for a Trachtenberg Award
Nominate your chapter for the UFT’s Ely Trachtenberg Award this year. The Trachtenberg Award honors UFT chapters and their leaders who show strong member engagement and advocacy. Hallmarks of award-winning chapters include holding regularly scheduled chapter meetings, empowering members to ensure contractual rights are respected, and having a high or growing proportion of members who contribute to COPE. Winning chapters will be honored and given their Trachtenberg plaque at the 2023 Teacher Union Day ceremony in November. The deadline for nominations is April 28.
To Do #6
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.
Find key dates and milestones in the hub
Did you know June 3 is the deadline for spring observations? Did you know June 14 is the deadline for middle school and high school teachers to receive their programs? The Chapter Leader Hub has a calendar of important deadlines and milestones that will help keep chapter leaders focused and on track throughout the school year. Remember, you can access the 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-level entities as appropriate:
- Pressing the DOE to provide appropriate professional development, materials and supplies to implement any new curriculum that schools must adopt.
- Pushing the DOE to complete a plan to implement the state class-size law.
- Continuing discussions with the DOE on the 2023-24 school calendar.
- Lobbying to block the governor’s plan to expand charter schools and pass legislation in Albany to remove the city’s obligation to provide space for charters in public school buildings or pay their rent.
- Advocating to improve Tier 6 pension benefits.
You Should Know
CONTRACT EMPOWERMENT & ENFORCEMENT
Last chance to apply for PROSE for next school year
If you work in a school that is highly collaborative and has innovative practices, you may be interested in becoming a Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) school. But the deadline to apply for the 2023-24 school year is fast approaching. You must submit an application by close of business on Friday, March 31. PROSE schools may change the UFT contract and DOE regulations to create educator-led, community-driven innovations. Check out the PROSE section of the UFT website and contact PROSE@uft.org to request a visit or ask questions. A PROSE school liaison will be happy to set up a meeting with your school.
Start to discuss SBOs with your members
It’s time to begin discussing possible school-based options (SBOs) for next school year with your chapter and your principal. If your chapter would like to recreate an SBO or implement a new SBO, you can discuss options at your March chapter meeting. An SBO allows staff at a school the opportunity to collaboratively modify certain contractual work rules or to create positions not automatically allowed under the contract. The principal or the chapter leader may propose an SBO. However, a principal cannot force the chapter to hold an SBO vote. Chapter leaders should only conduct an SBO vote for a modification that your staff wants.
For an SBO to pass at the school level, at least 55 percent of the UFT members who vote must support the modification. All SBO voting is conducted through the secure Election Buddy online voting system only. Find comprehensive information about the SBO process online, including the SBO manual, a PowerPoint presentation and sample SBO ballot templates.
SBO voting is not yet open. Once the DOE finalizes the school calendar and workday for the 2023-24 school year, you will be notified when SBO voting can begin. If you have questions, contact your district representative.
Tell us about an inspiring classroom at your school
Is there a classroom in your school you admire for its unique décor, innovative organization or creative visual projects? We want to highlight these classrooms on Instagram and for the New York Teacher’s Inside My Classroom feature. If a teacher in your school has done something special with their classroom to inspire student learning, use this online form to tell us about it or submit a photo.
The fight against charter school co-locations
The latest episode of the UFT podcast “On the Record with Michael Mulgrew” focuses on the successful community campaign earlier this year to stop the city Department of Education from shoehorning Success Academy charter schools inside two public school buildings in southeast Queens. UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Queens parent activist Adriana Alicea talk about how educators, parents and community members banded together to block the co-locations by spotlighting the harm to public school students. They also discuss what the next battle is shaping up to be. You can listen to this podcast on your favorite podcast streaming service or on the UFT website.
SALARY & PERSONNEL
Apply for Lead Teacher Assistant positions by March 31
The Department of Education is accepting applications from paraprofessionals for the Lead Teacher Assistant position for the 2023-24 school year. It is an annual position for in-service, full-time paraprofessionals that enables them to play a more diverse role supporting student needs in the classroom and school. Lead Teacher Assistants support instruction in the classroom under the supervision of the classroom teacher. This position allows paraprofessionals to enhance their skills and can serve as a pathway to a teaching career. If hired as a Lead Teacher Assistant, the paraprofessional will receive additional compensation of $5,000. Paraprofessionals revert to their previous title and base salary at the end of the school year unless they are rehired in the new position. This position is available to full-time paraprofessionals who hold a bachelor’s degree and a state Teacher Assistant certification (any Level I, II or III). The deadline to apply is Friday, March 31. Use this online form to apply. For more information, read the Lead Teacher Assistant Q&A for paraprofessionals on the UFT website or see the DOE’s Lead Teacher Assistant posting.
Deadline approaches for paras’ Career Training Program
Friday, March 31, is the deadline for paraprofessionals to apply for the summer semester of the Career Training Program, which provides financial support and release time to eligible UFT paraprofessionals wishing to earn their first bachelor's degree. The program pays tuition for three to six credits per semester for undergraduate study at a participating college or university. Participating paraprofessionals may also apply for a summer stipend to support study. Paraprofessionals are responsible for researching, applying and enrolling in an approved participating college or university.
Paras can apply for partial tuition reimbursement
The DOE will reimburse eligible full-time paraprofessionals for the cost of up to 12 credits towards a master’s degree in education. Paras must be in an accredited graduate education program as a fully matriculated student leading to New York State teacher certification. Applicants must have at least one full year as a paraprofessional in New York City public schools and be a full-time para at the time of application and for the remainder of the school year. The deadline to apply for reimbursement this school year is Friday, March 31. Learn more about the Paraprofessional to Teacher Pathway Graduate Reimbursement Program.
Tuition reimbursement for school secretaries clarified
School secretaries who have completed the School Records and Accounts course (needed for maximum requirements) may be eligible for tuition reimbursement. Eligible secretaries can apply for reimbursement by submitting their college transcript to the DOE Licensing Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reimbursement files are sent to the city’s Division of Finance three times per year for processing, after the fall, spring and summer semesters. Checks arrive typically in six weeks.
Confirm IEP/Intervention Teachers are appropriately programmed
The primary role of a centrally funded IEP/Intervention Teacher is to provide reading interventions to struggling general and special education students. The DOE reminded principals on March 7 that IEP/Intervention Teachers have defined roles and cannot be assigned to perform other duties. The item in the Principals Digest reminded principals that centrally funded IEP/Intervention Teachers must be programmed for:
- A minimum of five periods per week preparing for and participating in IEP meetings for students who have been initially referred and covering classes of other special education teachers who must attend IEP meetings.
- A maximum of five periods per week providing mandated instruction for students with IEPs.
- A minimum of seven periods per week providing individual and/or group research-based reading interventions for special education or general education students “at risk” of academic failure.
We encourage chapter leaders to read the item and the School Allocation Memorandum. If your school has a centrally funded IEP/Intervention Teacher, confirm that the teacher’s program meets these requirements. If it does not, please speak with your principal as soon as possible. Contact your district representative or MaryJo Ginese, the UFT vice president for special education, if you need further assistance.
Take advantage of UFT member discounts
Your union membership provides you with some great discounts for popular stores and services, and now there are some new ones to check out. With spring break around the corner, you can rent a car from Avis, Budget or Hertz and save up to 25% off base rates or save up to 40% at Booking.com for qualifying hotels worldwide. There are other new discounts for flowers, tech devices and office supplies. To take advantage of these discounts, you’ll need to access the members-only section of the UFT website or show your UFT membership card (or its digital version in your UFT mobile app). If you have a question about using your membership card to obtain a discount, email email@example.com or call 212-598-9512.
Earn CTLE hours at the Paraprofessional Festival & Awards Luncheon
Paraprofessionals can earn 2.5 CTLE hours at this year's annual Paraprofessional Festival and Awards Luncheon. The conference workshops, all tailored to meet the needs of paraprofessionals, include a multisensory approach to behavioral management for autistic students; using Apple translation tools to help migrant students in your classrooms; and keeping safe while providing your students the best care as you attend to their bathroom or diapering needs. Guests will also enjoy an awards ceremony, a carnival with games and prizes, a bag full of wellness freebies, a chance to win raffle prizes, breakfast and lunch. We’re gathering on Saturday, March 25, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the New York Hilton at 1335 Sixth Ave. School Leadership Team members may use funds allocated to the team to pay for registration fees by using a school-generated event purchase order. For detailed instructions on how to pay by purchase order, see this UFT purchase order memo.
Save the date for key UFT events this spring
Mark the dates on your calendar for these signature union events where we will celebrate our members and hone our practice:
- May 5, 5 to 8 p.m.: Academic High Schools Awards celebration
- May 20, 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.: UFT Spring Education Conference
Recent Guidance and Agreements
- Clarification on Duties of Centrally Funded IEP Teacher (March 7, 2023
- DOE school health policy (Feb. 9, 2023)
- Situation Room tips for principals (Nov. 17, 2022)
- Updates on the DOE's Grading, Attendance and Messaging Application (GAMA) (Sept. 16, 2022)
- Digital classroom agreement for 2022-23 (Aug. 24, 2022)
- Personnel Memo No. 1 for 2022-23 (July 1, 2022)
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.