Special Education Victories
The BFT Team made significant progress on our Special Education demands. Thanks to strong and unified member activism, BFT achieved two major victories. BUSD agreed for the first time ever to the concept of including caseload caps in the contract. Current caseloads are limited only by the California Ed Code, with a cap of 28 students.
The district also agreed that not only should the total number of required assessments be limited, but that the number required in any given month should be limited as well. This will help ensure that Sped teachers are not swamped with paperwork and will allow them to better serve students and support classroom teachers.
Details of BUSD’s Latest Special Education Proposal
During the morning session, BFT President Matt Meyer made a strong case for both total and monthly limits on assessments, and for caseload caps, in addition to averages, that will prevent disparities between sites.
Meyer stated, “We are really trying to change outcomes. Our proposal makes sure that case managers can serve students. Current teachers will see a real change and will want to keep working in Berkeley. We will be able to recruit new teachers based on these protections. These proposals will create a difference when people look at our program.”
BUSD responded with a new counterproposal that includes a limit of 14 total formal assessments per school year per Mild/Moderate case manager and 7 per Moderate/Severe case manager. Moderate/Severe case managers will not be required to complete initial assessments. No case manager will be required to complete more than two assessments per month. Case managers will be offered the chance to complete assessments beyond the limit for up to 15 hours of extra hourly pay, on a strictly voluntary basis.
BUSD had previously proposed a phased approach to reducing caseload averages, in order to prevent sudden staffing shortages. BFT agreed with this concept, but pushed for a hard cap on the number of students on each caseload in addition to averages. BUSD accepted this idea. Their current proposal will result after three years in caseload averages of 20:1 for M/M with a maximum caseload of 21 for a Mild/Mod case manager. For M/S teachers the proposed average is 10:1, with a maximum caseload of 11 for a Mod/Severe case manager. The district proposed additional compensation when the maximums are exceeded.
The discussion of Special Education will continue at the October 28th session.