The BEU has been very busy since ratification of the contracts. Here is a report.
1. Workload Oversight Committee launched with focus on literacy programming
The Workload Oversight Committee in the new Unit A contract (teachers, caseload specialists, nurses, librarians and others) is having its first 2 meetings this month. The contract language requires that the district bargain in good faith over changes in the working conditions of our members. The BEU negotiators representing you on the committee are Jeremy Bloch, Alisa Conner, Laura Vish, and Jess Wender-Shubow.
Elementary literacy programming is the first issue the BEU is bringing forward. The union is legally entitled to any information we deem necessary to represent our members. The first information request is posted on the new BEU website,brookline.massteacher.org.
In our overview of our concerns in the first meeting, we introduced examples of key questions:
1) Impact of new job: What is the job of the literacy coach?
2) Scheduling: What provisions are, or will be, put in place to ensure that no “unassigned periods” or “duty free lunches” will have mandatory literacy work scheduled during them?
3) Supervision and Evaluation: what uses of new instructional practices and curricular materials are mandatory, if any, and who is responsible for ensuring expectations are met, and what evidence is/will be required?
Meeting notes and reports will be posted on the new BEU website. We encourage you to become a member of the website if you have not already and to take advantage of the Member Discussion Section to share any questions and/or experiences of the literacy workload that you think would be helpful. Or: contact Jess at BEU-MTA@hotmail.com. Please watch for our requests for specific input from educators who have already been part of this initiative.
2. Middle School Advisory workload limited, compensated
Last fall, the BEU filed a grievance regarding the work overload that many 7th and 8th grade teachers face who teach 5 classes plus an Advisory class. Our contention was that Advisory is a course that requires time and collaboration to implement properly. If the district wants to have a course dedicated to social-emotional curriculum, we applaud that effort, but it needs to be staffed properly, and not by adding courses to those already teaching a full schedule.
Initially denied at Level 1, we filed at Level 2 where we were granted a hearing on this issue. After several sessions, the superintendent agreed to limit advisory to those teachers who teach fewer than 5 classes (or the fraction of FTE for part time teachers). (For educators who don’t teach a traditional schedule – such as Health, ETS, guidance, etc. – advisory cannot be assigned if it would go above their typical schedule.) Teachers who are teaching 5 classes plus advisory this year will be paid a $500 stipend for their work during this school year. This will likely be paid in the last paycheck of the year. Please contact Mark Goldner (BEU Grievance Team) if you have any questions.
3. Time reserved for K-8 teachers of “Specials” to complete Progress Reports
At a Level 2 Grievance Hearing between the BEU and PSB Central Office, an agreement was reached that will benefit most K-8 specialists in Art, Music, Physical Education and World Language. Given the increased responsibility for teachers around the new Progress Reports for K-5 students, any teacher in the areas mentioned above can request a release day this June to either complete their progress reports or to make up for personal time spent completing their Spring Progress Reports. Going forward (2017-18 school year and beyond), the aforementioned teachers will be able to request subs for any afternoon classes they have on K-6 early release days so that they can use this time to work on their progress reports. Please contact Jody Curran (BEU Grievance Team) if you have any questions.
4. Burdens of MCAS on Vice-Principals lessened
Tasks related to MCAS testing are increasingly interrupting time Vice-Principals’ seek to dedicate to supporting students and educators. The BEU worked with them to negotiate the following remedies:
- Vice Principals will be given two release days this spring to work on MCAS-related tasks.
- VPs may exercise their professional judgement in not attending specific meetings during the MCAS administration window if they need this time to meet their MCAS responsibilities.
- VPs won’t be asked to do special investigations during the part of the year when testing is underway.
Please contact Jess Wender-Shubow with any questions.
In addition, the central administration has agreed to the following: “Going forward, the district will make every effort to eliminate data responsibilities that can be picked up by other administrators.”
5. Status of Freshman Advisory as voluntary defended
The BEU is going to arbitration to defend the right of high school teachers to decline Freshman Advisory as an assignment. The grievance wended its way from BHS, to the Superintendent, to the School Committee. Please contact Susan Moreno with questions.
6. Grievance on co-teaching prep time headed to School Committee
Early in this school year, high school co-teachers met with Special Ed administrators to address what is not working with co-teaching at BHS. One of the issues concerns the lack of time for some pairs of co-teachers to plan together. A grievance targeting the district’s failure to uphold that part of the Duty Agreement that provides some such time is scheduled for presentation to the School Committee on June 15. Shelley Mains is handling this grievance for the team.
II. BEU DEFENDING QUALITY EDUCATIONAL SERVICES
1. BEU acting to defend Steps to Success program
Last summer, the BEU successfully intervened to ensure that Steps to Success program advisors would remain unionized public school educators, not unprotected employees of a private agency. This enables their union to bargain over their jobs and to defend our members’ right to have a seat at the table when programming changes change their working conditions. Unionized educators can bring their expertise to bear on discussions of how to best serve their students. Now, the BEU has filed a Prohibited Practice charge against the district for removing administrative oversight and supervision from Unit B. We will be working to ensure that a unionized school-based coordinator is in place and that oversight of their work is under the control of the public schools, not a private entity that is required to answer to no one but itself.
2. BEU reiterates its opposition to requiring educators to re-apply for stipended work, all of which must be bargained.
We were very surprised to hear that some of our members were being told that the BEU was behind a message that educators who are doing stipended work would suddenly have to reapply for the position each year. We want to be very clear: we are opposed to such practice and always have been. The BEU honors experience akin to seniority. Openings will be posted. We would consider any such change to be a change in past practice that would need to be negotiated. If the central administration has any concerns about work performance, we are open to discussing a process that would be appropriate for addressing that. Meanwhile,remember that all stipends and the work required to earn them, must be bargained by the BEU. Contact Negotiations Chair, Eric Schiff with questions.
3. Upholding transparency and community participation the hiring of principals
The Brookline Public Schools have traditionally opened up the process of hiring principals to the faculty of schools and the parent community. They have done this by bringing forward a set of finalists in open meetings that invited dialogue and feedback. The BEU Reps Council will be convening a subcommittee to explore what sort of process BEU educators think best for our school communities. The committee will consider what questions candidates should be asked, how to help make the recruitment process more transparent, and how BEU educators are best represented in searches and hiring. The BEU is working with parents who are concerned that recent searches have been less open than they used to be.
III. SECURING FAIR SCHEDULING AND PAY
1. Protocol for adding extra hours to a Para’s workday
On April 5, we asked the central administration to provide us with a protocol for assigning extra hours to a Para’s day. Members will recall that the School Committee refused to negotiate a contractually binding, stable and predictable workweek for members of the Paraprofessional Unit. They told the public, however, that they intended to increase the hours of paras, and all they agreed to contractually was to give 7 days notice before adding hours that might up-end a Para’s other responsibilities. Andrew pledged that a Para’s need to attend to other responsibilities would be respected, but we are still waiting for the district to explain how this will be done. In the meantime, Para’s face the summer without clarity about what their jobs will look like next year.
2. Paying Metco Liaisons fair salary for their work
The work of Metco Liaisons has become ever more central to the support of Brookline Metco students. They work with families, provide guidance to students, step in when unexpected needs arise, and help to create a cohesive program. With Metco Director, Dr. Suzie Talukdar, leaving the program to become Interim Principal at Driscoll, the experience the liaisons bring to the program will become all the more vital. Their pay does not reflect their current responsibilities. On April 24, we asked the district to increase their pay to bring it in line with comparable work done by others in our school system. We have not gotten an answer.
3. Addressing unfairness of differential pay for Schedule 2 Paras
Members are aware that BEU negotiators proposed distributing pay increases evenly for the great majority of Paras who are paid on the same salary schedule. We told the School Committee that Paras often cross the lines that separate programs now associated with a pay differential and Paras who are not officially assigned to the programs often serve children who are assigned to them. The BEU does not think it is fair for Paras serving the same students to be paid at different rates. We believe that the public will support our effort to extend the “differential” pay to all paras if we can show them why it is fair to do so. Please provide illustrations of why equal pay is fair by initiating a Member Discussion on the new BEU website,brookine.massteacher.org. (You’ll need to use your MTA number to become a member of the site to do this.)
Summer’s almost here! Hang in there!
We met with Andrew on Thursday and discussed Para scheduling for next year (the extra 30 minutes). I saw a draft letter to principals late yesterday and asked them to allow for addressing hardship cases. I also asked them to allow for the option of working through lunch and leaving 30 minutes earlier. The contract says that this can only by done by mutual agreement. I’m not sure at this point if Andrew will agree to that.