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Guidance Counselors Newsletter: Fall 2015

I hope you had a good start to the school year! I am honored and excited that you have given me the opportunity to continue to represent you as your chapter leader.

We have so much to do this year and I am delighted to see that our students have returned eager to work with us as we advise and support them. Our students know that we’re the ones to whom they can talk and who can help them make good decisions. I am proud to stand with you as we continue this important work. Working together, we continue to enrich the lives of our students. You don’t hear it often enough so thank you for all the work you do for our school communities.

I also thank those of you who are active in our chapter and who participate at union events. I know your time is valuable and limited. I urge every one of you to let the world know that unionism is alive and well by continuing to participate. We need you! Your voice is vital to the success of our chapter and the UFT.

We’ve been battling the right-wing assault on labor for years, but now a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, threatens to torpedo the financial structure of public-sector unions. Read the New York Teacher story about the Friedrichs case and watch a video in which labor leaders and elected officials talk about what is at stake.

The high court’s decision won’t come until the spring. What we can do now is to make sure that all our members understand what the UFT does for them in terms of salary, financial security, health benefits, advocacy and representation. If you have any questions at all about all the benefits of union membership, send me an email.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns on any topic, contact me at


Rosemarie Thompson
Guidance Counselors Chapter Leader

Teacher Union Day

Members of the UFT Guidance Counselors Chapter gathered on Nov. 1 to celebrate Teacher Union Day and help honor those whose efforts have made a difference in people’s lives.

Our guidance counselor seminar series

Our first seminar for guidance counselors on Sept. 19 was a big success. More than 100 counselors gathered to learn how to write basic IEPs and goals. I thank our presenters, Emma Mendez and Lisa Nieves, who answered questions on compliance issues and gave an interactive presentation of the Special Education Student Information System (SESIS).

I also want to thank those who attended the second workshop in our guidance seminar series “ELL Services (Changes to CR Part 154),” which clarified recent policy changes that affect many students. We reviewed the changes and the process for implementing these changes. Guidance counselors also learned about their role in the process and the importance of this revised policy.

Please email me at and let me know if these seminars were helpful to you. Your feedback will help guide our planning for future seminars.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Thanks to all of you who joined scores of other UFT members throughout the city on Oct. 18 for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.

Each year, UFT members participate in the American Cancer Society’s walk to raise funds for breast cancer research, advocacy and patient services. Every step taken, and every dollar raised, helps the society assist the victims of breast cancer and to find cures to end the disease.

I am proud of our efforts as a union to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research and treatment, and hope that you will continue to show your support by taking part in this annual walk next year.

Save the date!

Please mark your calendar for our 12th annual Guidance Counselors Conference on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway in Shanker Hall.

You'll have a day of wonderful workshops presented by your colleagues and other experts in the field, as well as other professional development opportunities. And, of course, you'll have plenty of time to network with each other. Registration details will be forthcoming.

Guidance Expo 2015

I also want to thank those of you who attended the Guidance Expo on Oct. 21 at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY. It was nice to see so many of you released from school to attend the Expo, which provides a great opportunity for us to share ideas and discuss issues that affect counselors. For those who couldn’t make it, we missed you and hope you can make it next time.

Lump-sum payment calculations now on DOE payroll portal

All in-service members can see a statement of their lump-sum calculation on the DOE’s payroll portal and retired members can see the same breakdown on the DOE's retiree portal. The portal will break down the money that members received in their regular paychecks dating back as far as Nov. 1, 2009, the amount they should have received if those two 4 percent raises from 2009 and 2010 were reflected in their paychecks at the time, and the difference for each check. This is the first round of lump-sum payments, representing 12.5 percent of the money accrued to date. If you are an in-service member currently on payroll, you should have received your lump sum in your Oct. 15 paycheck. In-service H-Bank employees should have received their payments on Oct. 23.

If you have any questions about your lump-sum payment, please contact a UFT salary rep at your UFT borough office. For issues that cannot be resolved in this way, please file a Lump Sum Inquiry Form.

For more general information about lump-sum payments, check out the special Contract 2014 section of the UFT website.

Our chapter website

Our Guidance Counselors Chapter website has been updated. If you haven’t already, please bookmark it and check back frequently for events, news and important information about our chapter and union. If you know of any additional resources that are important to our work, please let me know and I can add them to our chapter’s section on the UFT website.

Teacher's Choice for guidance counselors

The amount of Teacher’s Choice for guidance counselors has increased to $55 this school year. As guidance counselors, we spend money out of OUR own pockets on materials to do our job. I hope that the increase this year will help to offset some of your expenses.

As in previous years, to participate in Teacher’s Choice, you need to submit receipts as proof-of-purchase. These receipts must accompany a Statement of Purpose/Accountability form, which you will find under key documents on the DOE’s Teacher’s Choice website. To quality, purchases must be made between Aug. 1, 2015 and Jan. 8, 2016.

For more information, please see the Teacher’s Choice section of the UFT website.

New Borough Field Support Centers

The Department of Education has established a new Office of Guidance and School Counseling to build our capacity and support us in the work we do. As a school guidance counselor, you now have access to support from guidance managers in each of the DOE’s Borough Field Support Centers.

Guidance managers can offer professional development and resources to help you better provide guidance services to students. I have listed the contact information for the Office of Guidance and School Counseling below. I would like to monitor the success of the support services offered by guidance managers, so please contact me at and let me know about your experiences.

Jaye Murray, Executive Director

Michael Battista, Senior Administrator

Danielle Ehsanipour, Special Assistant

Cheryl Hall, Citywide Coordinator, Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Intervention

Zuri Jackson-Woods, Senior Administrator

Elizabeth Ann Johnson, Senior Program Manager

Margarita Suero-Duran, Senior Administrator

For more information on the Office of Guidance and School Counseling, visit the DOE website.

Professional development committee

Our new joint PD committee, in collaboration with the Department of Education, is working to offer professional development that is related to the work that we do as guidance counselors. To help us craft professional development that is based on your needs, we need your input. If you have any suggestions for future PD topics, please email me at

New paperwork reduction standards

new paperwork reduction agreement with the DOE has been formulated. The agreement states that we, as related service providers, are not required, whether by paper or electronically, to perform redundant, duplicative, unnecessary or unreasonable amounts of record keeping concerning the performance of, plans for, or evaluation of students, unless necessary to comply with federal or state statutory or other legal requirements imposed on the DOE. We are pleased that the new agreement will provide relief for many of you who have long labored with unreasonable paperwork demands.

I will continue to advocate for you to ensure that paperwork is reasonable and fair. Please notify me if you encounter any excessive requests, or if you encounter any difficulties in this area.

Repurposed time

As a reminder, we have no changes to the repurposed workday under our current contract for the 2015–16 school year. I just want to review a few key points here:

  • The repurposing of time for professional development, parent engagement and other professional work does not apply to guidance counselors.
  • Our work hours have not changed. We continue to work our contractual time of six hours, 30 minutes, exclusive of lunch, five days a week.
  • Teachers are working longer on Mondays and Tuesdays. But our workday on Monday and Tuesday ends at the usual time for us.
  • When the teachers’ day is shorter, we do not leave early. We work our contractual time and leave at the end of our work day.
  • Guidance counselors in single-session schools, where everyone reports at the same time, no longer have to attend faculty conference and departmental meetings. In lieu of them, we are required to attend two additional parent-teacher conferences. This applies only to single-session schools. Guidance counselors in multi-session schools and Districts 79 and 75 are not affected by this change, unless the school has adopted a school-based option to reconfigure its time.
  • The parent-teacher conferences are in:
    • September: Guidance counselors attend the full three hours.
    • November: Guidance counselors attend the first two hours and 10 minutes.
    • March: Guidance counselors attend the full three hours.
    • May: Guidance counselors attend the first two hours and 10 minutes.

Sign up for text messages

The UFT is now sending text messages to members’ mobile phones to get you information you need fast. This includes updates on weather emergencies, reminders about rallies and other union actions; and updates on vital news. We promise not to inundate you. We’ll still send most of our messages via email.

Sign up to receive UFT text messages by texting “UFT” to 30644 from your mobile phone, or you can sign up online.

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Related Topics: Chapter News, Union Proud