Kudos to Ramona Abraham-Coley, NYC Museum School, Manhattan
NYC Museum School Chapter Leader Ramona Abraham-Coley successfully used the school-based option process in the DOE-UFT contract to organize her members and arrive at a new staff schedule for this school year that works for both her members and the administration.
“We were able to make everyone happy,” she said.
In the 2021-22 school year, thanks to an SBO, teachers at the Manhattan high school had a period from 8 to 8:30 a.m. to use for professional development on Mondays and for common planning and other noninstructional tasks on other mornings.
Last June, the principal asked Abraham-Coley to pass a new SBO to eliminate the flexible morning period, begin instruction at 8:20 a.m. and reestablish blocks of extended time in the afternoons.
The administration “conveyed that the PD time wasn’t enough because we only had it Mondays,” said Abraham-Coley. “That’s fine, teachers need PD. But there had to be a compromise.”
Abraham-Coley went back to her fellow teachers. “I’m the type of chapter leader who likes to have teacher voices included,” she said. “So I put out a survey for teachers asking, ‘What do you like about the SBO from last year?’ and ‘What changes would you like to see for this year?’ ”
With the survey results in hand, Abraham-Coley recruited a committee of teachers to sit down with the principal.
“He was very open to what we wanted,” she said. “We just needed a meeting of the minds.”
The administration and the UFT committee negotiated a new SBO proposal that retained the 8:30 a.m. start time for classes and some flexible time in the morning, but created an hour-long block on Tuesday afternoons that rotates between professional development, department meetings and staff town hall meetings.
“We used Tuesday to squeeze in all the things we had to do,” Abraham-Coley said.
The new SBO for this school year has been well-received by teachers and the administration.
Lenny Stein, a math teacher at the school, is appreciative of the effort his chapter leader puts into involving members in the process.
“Ramona makes me feel like I have a voice in the decisions that we make,” he said. “That can’t be easy with so many teachers and differences of needs and opinions.”