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Negotiations Update 5.17.17

Negotiations Update: May 17th, 2017
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Negotiations session: May 11th, 2017
BFT and BUSD met for the fourth time on May 11th, with future sessions scheduled for May 24th and May 31st. In order to comply with BFT By-Laws, which require a two-week voting period to ratify a new contract, the parties would need to reach a tentative agreement by May 31st.
If agreement is reached on May 31st, there will be a membership meeting where members can learn about the Tentative Contract Agreement and cast their ballot. This meeting would be on Monday, June 5th at 4:00 at the Berkeley Adult School—mark your calendars now!
Personal Leave
BFT proposed that four of the nine personal leave days provided in Article 12 be truly personal “no-tell” days, meaning that a member would not be required to give any reason for an absence. All other BUSD unions have this provision in their contracts. Chief negotiator Cathy Campbell argued that teachers should be trusted as professionals to use days like this sparingly and responsibly. She pointed out that members have real lives outside of work and should not be expected to reveal sensitive or private issues to administrators in order to use personal leave.
K-5 Prep Time
Discussion of various prep time scenarios continued. One possible scenario involves slightly fewer prep periods provided for 1st-3rd grade teachers than for 4th and 5th grade teachers, due to the fewer instructional minutes they are required to teach and to the fact that 4th and 5th grade class sizes will not decrease until 2021.
Why the focus on elementary prep time?
For those members wondering why this round of negotiations is focusing so intensively on K-5 prep time, the BFT Negotiations Team wanted to provide some background information and context.
Elementary teachers plan for upwards of 6 hours of instruction in every subject, broken into 15-minute increments, every day. They teach everything from math to science, language arts to history, art to PE. Elementary classrooms are incredibly materials-intensive, requiring an immense number of posters, images, handouts, and organizers. Then there’s the parent communication—parents of elementary students are deeply involved in their children’s schooling. K-5 teachers communicate with multiple parents in person, over email, and by phone every day. Currently, 1st-3rd grade teachers do all of this with one 45-minute prep period during the student day per week.
While it is true that elementary teachers, and especially 1st-3rd teachers, have recess and a shorter instructional day, both of these times are often unavailable for prepping for teaching. Teachers are often required to supervise students on the yard during recess, and the recess blocks often only amount to 15-20 minutes, hardly enough time to get substantial work done. The time after student dismissal is frequently used for meetings that begin minutes after students are dismissed. Release time during the student day is much more likely to be protected for actual planning and preparation which will directly benefit students.
Primary teachers have worked for many years with only one prep period per week. The class size changes enacted in our most recent BSEP measure make it imperative that we improve their access to our most precious resource: time.
Cash-In-Lieu for Hourly Members
Due to changes mandated by the Affordable Care Act, BFT and BUSD exchanged proposals with the intent to preserve cash-in-lieu payments for hourly members who do not receive health benefits under BUSD. BFT and BUSD share an interest in maintaining these payments.
Next Session
The BFT and BUSD teams will meet again for all-day sessions on Wednesday, May 24th and Wednesday, May 31st.
Latest News on Governor’s Proposed Budget
The latest version of Governor Brown’s proposed budget was released as the two teams negotiated. Revenue projections improved slightly over the Governor’s initial budget proposal in January, but are still down significantly from where his projections stood as of June 2016. Coupled with declining enrollment in BUSD, this creates a challenging environment in which to negotiate compensation. A successful BFT action at the May 3rd School Board meeting kept the pressure on BUSD to find a way to increase compensation even in tough budgetary times.
Berkeley Federation of Teachers, CFT/AFT, AFL-CIO

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