Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed your summer vacation and are feeling recharged for the 2022-23 school year.
Over the summer, the UFT fought the mayor's education budget cuts, but we recently earned a victory in Albany: Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill capping class sizes in New York City's public schools. This year is a planning year. Implementation goes into effect next school year.
A cap on class size necessitates a cap on caseloads for school counselors. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends a ratio of 250 to 1. We must be vigilant and advocate for smaller caseloads so that we can provide the best support for our students.
As we begin a new school year, I would like to reiterate the importance of mindfulness. School counselors help students develop their social and emotional skills, so it's essential to cultivate your own as well. However, you don’t have to do it by yourself. One of my goals is to engage our chapter outside regular union activities through social gatherings and networking events. It gives us a chance to learn from one another and become better advocates for our students when we are together and openly share our thoughts, feelings and concerns. Keep a lookout for invitations to these events.
The DOE has also released updates on school safety and health, instructional policies and more. I hope the information below will make your work easier in the weeks to come.
School Counselors Chapter Leader
DOE-UFT guidance on digital classrooms
The DOE issued a memo on Aug. 24 requiring mandated related service providers to set up their digital classrooms on a DOE-approved platform between now and Thursday, Sept. 30.
If you are already on the payroll as of Sept. 30, you will be paid $225 via supplemental check on or about Oct. 31. Those added to payroll after Sept. 30 may submit standard timekeeping documentation to receive compensation.
As a reminder, digital classrooms are not to be used for counseling sessions. They are only for synchronous instruction on snow days or during school closures.
Additional opportunities to attend School Counseling Plan Coordinator Training
The New York State Education Department requires principals to submit building-level school counseling plans as part of the consolidated plan submission by Thursday, Sept. 30. If you are the school counseling plan coordinator at your site and have not yet been trained, or if you have attended previously and would like a refresher, there are three additional opportunities to attend training. Please register for one of the following dates using your DOE credentials.
- 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21
- 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22
Labor guidance on staffing for student support services
This labor guidance is intended to provide a high-level overview of the general roles of school counselors and social workers so that principals can make strategic staffing decisions to ensure that students have access to appropriate supports and services. This is not an exhaustive list of duties and responsibilities, but it provides guidance and parameters for school counselors.
Principals’ Digest on designating staff in Galaxy
According to the Aug. 30 edition of Principals’ Digest, principals must use Galaxy to designate staff in certain school-based roles. In addition to mandated counseling providers, school counselors may also be designated as transition team leaders, medically necessary instruction points or Section 504 coordinators. Principals must finalize these assignments by Friday, Oct. 14.
Please be aware of your role should you receive an assignment from your principal. It may result in additional responsibilities, but no administrative work should take precedence over your regular counseling work, especially if you work with students with IEPs. If the workload becomes a problem for you, please reach out to me at RThompson@uft.org and Emma Mendez at EMendez@uft.org.
Teacher's Choice allotment for school counselors
The Teacher’s Choice program reimburses educators for the purchase of classroom and school supplies of their choice. School counselors are eligible to receive $110 in reimbursements for the 2022-23 school year. The purchasing period runs until mid-January. You'll receive your Teacher’s Choice funds in your last November or first December paycheck.
To receive reimbursement through Teacher’s Choice, you must submit receipts as proof of purchase along with a DOE Statement of Purpose/Accountability form. The DOE will take back the money from those who don’t file that form and submit valid receipts.
For more information about the program, please see the Teacher’s Choice section of the UFT website.
Parent-teacher conferences are remote again this year
All parent-teacher conferences will again be conducted remotely during the 2022-23 school year. UFT-represented staff are not required to attend evening conferences at the school building and may conduct the afternoon conferences remotely if their commute allows. Read the UFT’s updated guidelines on parent-teacher conferences for more information.
COVID safety and absence protocol for the 2022-23 school year
The DOE has released its health and safety protocols for the 2022-23 school year. The new protocols closely follow the new COVID-19 guidelines recently issued by the CDC. Read the union's FAQ for the 2022-23 school year for more information.
How to apply for salary increases
All pedagogues and paraprofessionals who are eligible to apply for salary steps, differentials and upgrades must use the online Salary Application Portal for DOE employees. Pedagogues have two applications: one for salary steps (outside and inside experience credit) and one for education (differentials). New DOE employees applying for outside experience credit must also use the portal. The union recommends that new employees apply for salary step placement even if they lack prior experience because they need a date from which future steps can be computed. Without such a date, employees will only go up one step each year instead of two. The portal gets busy so it may slow down or freeze. Transcripts must be original, and a watermark must be visible.
It’s time to apply for school-based parking permits
The DOE’s self-service portal will remain open through Monday, Oct. 3. The following parking permits are available to UFT members if there are DOT-designated on-street parking spaces at your school:
- On-street general (OSG) parking
- Itinerant on-street (OSI) parking
The DOE will deliver parking permits by Tuesday, Nov. 1, which is when last year’s parking permits expire. The new permits are distributed after the expired ones are collected. Please remember that permits are school-specific. School-based staff who work at more than one school are issued itinerant on-street (OSI) parking permits for use at assigned schools with available DOT-designated parking spaces. These spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For questions, email DOEParkingPermits@schools.nyc.gov. (Please note: The DOE’s self-service portal works best in Google Chrome.)
2022-23 school calendar
Please review the calendar for the 2022-23 school year if you haven’t already. It contains the dates of DOE holidays and the last day of school for counselors.
UFT Labor Day Parade 2022
Some of our members took part in the annual New York City Labor Day Parade with the UFT contingency.
Save the Date: 19th annual School Counselors Conference
Our annual conference is a great opportunity to network with colleagues, listen to guest speakers and develop your skills as school counselors. Please take advantage of this exciting opportunity to participate. I will email members when registration opens, but please save the date.
Save the Date: Teacher Union Day 2022
The UFT will celebrate Teacher Union Day on Sunday, Nov. 6 this year. The day commemorates the strike that put the newly formed UFT on the path to being the activist organization that it is today. On this day, we honor the past leaders who inspire us and celebrate the present leaders who continue in their footsteps. For more information on the awards, please read the UFT's webpage on Teacher Union Day.