Can you believe it is already time for our holiday break? This fall has passed quickly, and I am sure it has been a busy one for all of us.
Recently I sent a letter along with a gift of a pen as a thank you for all you do. I hope you received it.
And in mid-November, celebrations of all school-related personnel were held in each of the five boroughs. I hope many of you got to join in these events recognizing and thanking you for your hard work throughout the school year.
Our chapter is growing! We now have more than 2,700 members across the city.
It has been wonderful to see some of you at our recent chapter meetings. I also hope I will see many of you at our School Secretaries Seminar on Jan. 10. This seminar is always a great event! I have more information on it below.
As always, I am here for you. If you have any questions or concerns, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a wonderful and well-deserved winter break!
School Secretaries Chapter Leader
New process for nominating school secretaries
As you know, our chapter got some great news this fall on updated hiring procedures. The UFT and the DOE established a new process for hiring full-time secretaries similar to the way teachers are now hired. It eliminates the exam and emphasizes the secretary’s education and experience. The deadline for nominations by principals was Nov. 21, but nominations will still be processed as needed, as long as no hiring restrictions are set by the DOE.
New DOE website for secretaries
I hope by now you have had an opportunity to check out the new DOE secretaries web page. The creation of this site was a result of our union telling the DOE that secretaries need information and answers to questions specifically pertaining to their needs. Finally, something on the DOE site specifically targeted to our needs!
Please give me feedback on what you think of the new site and whether it is helpful to you.
Paperwork reduction and workload dispute
Our contract secured for us a voice to deal with the growing burden of paperwork and electronic work. A joint UFT-DOE central paperwork committee was established and has already begun to create systemwide standards for the reduction and elimination of unnecessary paper and electronic forms. School-specific paperwork issues for a member can be brought by a chapter leader to the district paperwork committee. If an issue is not resolved at this level, the union may bring the issue to the central paperwork committee and, if still unresolved, the union can file a grievance.
Article 7.J in our contract also gives us a right to make a complaint about an existing workload and request a conference with the principal or his or her designee. A secretary workload dispute form must be filed. Your school chapter leader will accompany you to the meeting with your principal. If unresolved at the school level, the complaint is sent to the superintendent. If still unresolved, the union may forward the issue to the chancellor for a final decision. If you need assistance, please contact me.
Our new contract also gives us a voice in designing professional development that is relevant to us in our job as secretaries.
I saw evidence of some of that during our citywide professional development on Election Day. At the High School of Fashion Industries in Manhattan, I sat in on portions of three workshops on best practices for payroll secretaries: STARS Classroom and Galaxy tools for procurement; per session and time management; and internal controls for timekeeping and purchasing. These workshops were filled with pertinent and valuable information to help us in our daily routines.
I also visited PD sessions held on three floors of a district office building at 333 7th Avenue. The workshop topics included: payroll − many facets of the job and Cybershift; frequently asked questions on ATS discharge codes and payroll for leaves; best practices for getting organized at work; and Galaxy 101 − payroll and procurement. In several workshops, participants received packets and reference guides with valuable information. One of the workshops distributed a book on getting organized.
We will continue to work in collaboration with the DOE to develop relevant PD for secretaries. If you have any topic suggestions, please email them to me.
School secretary profiled in New York Teacher story
Did you see that a principal’s secretary, Anne Gallo of IS 61 in Staten Island, was among the UFT members profiled in a story about the opening of school this fall?
Courses by the DOE to reach your 30 credits
DOE courses that are offered both online and in classroom settings can earn you “P credits” that you can use for your 30 credits.
Peak load relief under our contract
All of us should be sure we are familiar with Article 7.D of our contract on peak period relief assignments. This is an important provision that our union has negotiated for us.
Article 7.D Peak Period Relief Assignments:
The Board will provide an average of 10 days per year of secretarial service for peak work relief for each non-Title 1 elementary school.
The Board will provide 15 days per year of secretarial service for peak work relief for each Title 1 elementary school, for each junior high school and for each high school.
The Board will provide on request up to six days per year for peak work relief for each alternative high school.
The Board will provide six days per year of secretarial service for peak work relief for each school in the citywide program and for each committee on special education (CSE).
Per diem substitute school secretaries who are available for less than a full day’s work may be assigned for peak period relief services.
The funds available for peak load days that are unused because of the unavailability of substitute school secretaries may be converted to per session hours on a dollar equivalency basis. A school secretary who is employed on the basis of such converted days is not filling a per session position for purposes of Article 7G.
I want to remind you that if you are ever approached by a DOE investigator on any matter, you should not answer any questions without representation. Ask the investigator for a business card or for his or her contact information. You should then contact your chapter leader, your UFT district representative or your borough office as soon as possible after you are approached by an investigator and before you speak to the investigator. An appropriate union representative will be assigned to you. If the investigator is from the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the DOE, an attorney may be assigned to represent you.
Our chapter's liaisons
Our chapter has volunteer district coordinators or liaisons. A liaison can be a troubleshooter and respond to questions or issues in a specific district. The following districts do not have an active volunteer liaison or could use an additional one: 6, 10, 17, 28 and Manhattan HS.
Please consider becoming a liaison in the spring!
We expect our liaisons to be in good standing and have excellent reputations.
All eligible secretaries should have automatically received a $25 stipend in your paycheck in November for Teacher's Choice. Your receipts for purchases under this program can be from Aug. 1, 2014 through Feb. 28, 2015. Purchases must be of appropriate professional materials.
I hope you will join us for one of our upcoming chapter meetings. All of the meetings listed below will be held on Tuesdays from 4 to 6 p.m.
- Jan. 27: Staten Island borough office
- Feb. 24: Manhattan borough office
- March 31: Bronx borough office
On Oct. 28, our chapter’s executive board and I held our first borough meeting of the year in the Brooklyn borough office. We discussed various topics including the new hiring process, on which our chapter liaisons also spoke. In addition, we had a guest speaker, Steve Gappelberg of the UFT pension department, who spoke on a favorite topic — retirement.
On Nov. 12, we held a meeting in our Queens borough office where we discussed various issues raised by members, including the new hiring process, opportunities for future training, courses that can be taken for “P” credit and the upcoming Secretaries Seminar on Jan. 10.
Join the UFT
For our new secretaries, please understand that your membership in the union is not automatic — you need to sign up.
Unless you join the union, you will be paying dues as an agency fee payer. As a union member, you will have access to valuable benefits and have a voice in your union that nonmembers don’t have.
You can join the UFT through an online enrollment form on the UFT website or, if you prefer, you can get a membership card from your school chapter leader. To enroll online, there is an easy two-step process. First sign up on our website, which takes about a minute. Then go to the membership enrollment form.
The UFT pension department offers many services and sources of information to help you prepare for retirement security. These include pension clinics that are offered every year. You are also entitled to preliminary pension consultations and a final pension consultation. I encourage you to take advantage of the excellent services offered by our pension experts. Call any borough office with your questions or to schedule a consultation.
The only way our union is able to do political work to advance our interests is through our COPE donations. The Committee on Political Education (COPE), the UFT's political action arm, covers the expenses of meeting with and educating legislators and of helping to elect officeholders who respect our members, support education and work for union goals. If you aren’t signed up yet to donate to COPE, please consider doing so.
Save the dates
School Secretaries Seminar
Saturday, Jan. 10
UFT headquarters, 2nd floor 8:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
A continental breakfast and a luncheon will be provided. You may choose from three workshops: pupil accounting, payroll and purchasing; and there will be a plenary for everyone on effective communications. Space is limited, so preregistration is required.
RSVP online now »
Saturday, May 16
School Secretaries Awards Luncheon
More details to come
Contact or visit your borough office
Your UFT borough offices are here to serve you. You can find the address, phone number, contact information and office hours for your borough office on the UFT website.
We currently have a borough coordinator for secretaries in two borough offices: Doreen Schafer is in the Staten Island office on Wednesday afternoons, and Rita Prior is in the Queens office on Tuesday afternoons. I am at union headquarters, 52 Broadway, on Monday afternoons and all day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
You can also reach me by email at email@example.com or by phone at 1-212-701-9429.