Welcome back to a new school year! I hope that you had a great summer and some time to relax. On behalf of the UFT Speech Chapter, I also want to welcome all of our new speech teachers and therapists who were hired over the summer. We have grown over the years and now boast almost 3,000 members.
Our chapter continues to offer help and support through our chapter hotline number at 1-212-598-7774 on Monday through Friday from 4–6 p.m. You can also leave a brief message on our hotline number. Please provide a phone number for a return call. In addition, you can send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. However, this is not as speedy as a phone call. It is only intended for short messages and questions.
Our assistant chapter leader, Katherine Lewis; our Brooklyn representative Brenda Caquais; and our new speech teacher trainer, Lisa Arian, are our hotline and email specialists. They are highly trained and will maintain your confidentiality. They speak to me daily to make sure issues are resolved. With so many members in the chapter, I strongly encourage you to speak to them rather than waiting for me to return your call.
Issues and concerns arise constantly in our chapter. Our monthly chapter meetings are an opportunity for me and your other chapter representatives to learn what is going on in your schools, to answer your questions and to help resolve your problems. This year I will pilot having borough meetings across the city to see if this leads to greater membership engagement. I will monitor attendance at these meetings, and you can attend any meetings you choose.
Our next chapter meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 11 at UFT headquarters at 4:15 p.m. We will meet in Queens on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 4:15 p.m. Please register online when you receive the email invitation to help us ensure that we have enough space and refreshments.
Mindy Karten Bornemann
Paperwork and electronic work
I worked over the summer to make sure our issues related to paper and computer work were considered by the joint DOE-UFT committee that is working to develop citywide paperwork reduction standards. The UFT identified a number of ways to reduce the time spent on SESIS. The union also pressed for standards in the area of progress reports and questioned the need for members to provide a variety of other information that is already available in SESIS. We emphasized that members need to have an appropriate amount of time during the workday to properly and professionally complete their SESIS activities. I suggest you read the entire agreement. Read the DOE-UFT standards on paperwork reduction »
The agreement provides initial paperwork reduction standards to school educators and related service providers. It states that "employees (including those in functional chapters) who believe that they have been assigned unnecessary paperwork should first seek to resolve their concerns at the school level. If issues are not resolved at the school level, employees may request that their Chapter Leaders raise school-specific issues (whether paperwork or electronic) before their respective District Committees."
The agreement also states that "the DOE will continue to engage UFT to prioritize how to streamline and enhance SESIS functionality to increase usability. The system enhancements will commence on a rolling basis as identified."
While we had hoped that the DOE would move quickly to pre-slug information that does not change in encounter attendance — making simple programming changes that would remove dozens of unnecessary "clicks" — that has not happened so far.
Additionally, the agreement provides that "each school or program shall continue to engage with all users of SESIS to provide adequate time and computer access to complete SESIS-related tasks." The agreement also addresses data systems, printing documents and attendance issues.
I am keenly aware that time to perform SESIS activities remains our most pressing challenge. I strongly recommend that you speak directly to your principal or communicate with him or her via email as soon as possible to ask for time to complete daily SESIS encounter attendance, caseload management and other required activities. Before going to your principal, consider your options. Is it possible to configure your caseload so that you have time in your workday or work week to do SESIS work? If so, show your principal how this can be accomplished while satisfying all IEP mandates. For those of you in the middle and high schools, you may suggest using administrative periods. Your prep time should be for preparation of lessons and materials.
Speech teachers are reminded to do SESIS work during the school day with the exception of lunch which should be duty-free. You should not be doing this work before or after your paid workday. Before calling the hotline number with issues related to SESIS please make sure that you speak to your principal and speech supervisor to ensure that they know your specific needs for time at your school.
Adding, removing and reporting first-attend dates — IVR eliminated
The DOE is now using the caseload management tool in SESIS to add and remove students from providers' caseloads and record first-attend dates. Use of the Integrated Voice Recording system has been discontinued. Soon, a new SESIS module, called "provider assignment," will be implemented. The union has expressed concerns about rolling this out citywide, but the DOE has assured us that both training and capacity will not be an issue. One good thing about the provider assignment module is that you will only have to enter your start date once during the year, not after every annual review or triennial. We are also hopeful that this may help with compliance issues and to address ongoing problems related to communication between SESIS and DOE legacy systems such as CAP, SEC, and IVR. Please let us know if there are any problems with these changes that you are not able to resolve in your school.