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School-based options

New York Teacher
Man with back turned and cartoon bubbles asking whether we should reconfigure PD blocks and if we need comp-time positions.

Spring is the time for school chapter leaders to discuss with their chapter members and then with their principal the school-based options (SBOs) they want to create, recreate or allow to sunset for the 2022–23 school year.

SBOs — in accordance with Article 8B of the DOE-UFT contract — allow UFT members the opportunity to collaboratively modify contractual articles and/or create positions that the contract does not automatically allow. Chapters pass SBOs to change the date of parent-teacher conferences; reconfigure school time or the standard blocks for PD; parent engagement and Other Professional Work; add an activity to the professional activity menu; and much more.

An SBO is ratified in a school when 55% of the UFT members who vote — not 55% of all UFT members at the school — support the modification.

SBOs must have approval at the school level (both the principal and the chapter); at the district level, including the district representative and the superintendent; and at the central level, including the UFT president and the schools chancellor.

An SBO can be proposed by the chapter leader or by the principal. The chapter leader determines whether a vote should be taken on a particular SBO. A principal cannot force the chapter to hold a vote on any SBO. Nor can a principal implement an SBO if it hasn’t been ratified in a vote by the chapter.

The ratification process

Before any chapter holds a vote on proposed SBOs, the chapter leader should survey the school’s staff to gauge interest in the SBOs under consideration. The survey should use the same language that will be on the SBO ballot. Chapter leaders should conduct an SBO vote only if their survey indicates that an overwhelming share of the voting membership wants to ratify the SBO. The SBO ballot must be approved by the district representative prior to the SBO vote.

Only UFT members in the school can vote.

All SBO votes must take place via ElectionBuddy, a third-party electronic voting system the UFT uses. ElectionBuddy allows for secure, same-day voting for all UFT members through a secure link, unique to each individual, that is sent by email or text message. Voting results are counted by the ElectionBuddy system, and results are provided in a timely manner after the vote has ended. District reps and UFT borough office staff are available the day of the vote to assist any of the school’s members who did not receive a link to vote.

The SBO remains in effect for only one school year and must be renewed every year to continue. The only SBO modification that does not sunset is for elementary schools that change from an eight-period day to a seven-period day. But if that elementary school wishes to return to an eight-period day, another SBO is required.

Creating comp-time positions

Schools may use the SBO process to create or renew compensatory-time positions — non-teaching assignments — that are done in lieu of teaching periods. If you hold a compensatory-time job that is not renewed the following year, you return to a full teaching program.

The UFT website has resources to assist chapter leaders with the SBO process, including the SBO manual and sample SBO ballot templates. The school chapter should keep its UFT district representative involved throughout the process. UFT borough offices and the Contract Empowerment Department can assist with any SBO-related questions.