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October 21, 2019 Negotiations Update

Negotiations Update: October 21, 2019
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Negotiations Update: October 21, 2019

BFT and BUSD teams met for a full-day bargaining session on October 18, 2019. The next session is scheduled for October 28th. 

This session was focused on Special Education issues. BUSD will bring a compensation counterproposal to the October 28th session after consultation with the School Board.

All previous Negotiations Updates can be found on the BFT website.


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.


BFT continues to fight for a substantial total raise over a two-year contract period. In order to achieve this goal, we will aim to come to an agreement on or around October 28th to preserve the option of placing a new local tax that will support a substantial raise on the March 2020 ballot. For more information about the possible parcel tax, go to

Strength in Numbers! 

ALL BFT members should come to the School Board meeting on October 23 at 7 pm. 

Our unity and activism has carried us very close to a great new contract. NOW is the time to show the School Board that we will not settle for half measures. 

Pack the Board room! Raise your voice!

We Must FILL the Board Chambers!


Next Steps

If we are able to come to a strong Tentative Agreement (TA) that meets our members’ needs on October 28th, the next steps will include a general membership meeting to present and explain the TA, publication of the full TA and TA summary to all members and sites, and two weeks of voting. If BFT members vote to ratify the agreement, the School Board will vote to approve it at their next meeting.  

If the agreement is ratified by both sides, any 2019-2020 raise will go into effect and retroactive paychecks will be issued. BFT will immediately begin to channel our great member activism to the parcel tax campaign to ensure that the contingent portion of the agreed raises are achieved. Additionally, BFT will be able to focus on the statewide fight for more revenue through the Schools and Community First campaign and possibly other statewide actions. 

If agreement is reached but the parcel tax fails in March 2020, BFT and BUSD will reopen the compensation part of the contract and resume negotiating on compensation for 2020-2021. 

If we are unable to come to agreement with BUSD on October 28th or very shortly thereafter, it will not be possible to meet the legally required timeline to place a parcel tax on the ballot for the March 2020 election. Therefore the contingent portion of the 2020-2021 raise would not be available. Agreements around Special Education caseload caps and assessment limits, personal leave, and Substitute teacher compensation, among others, would not go into effect until a full agreement is reached. 

In this case the BFT Negotiations Team would consult with the BFT Executive Board and continue to negotiate. This would likely require a significant escalation of our contract campaign, including the possibility of a strike in the fall of 2020. 

There are several steps before a strike can begin. The parties must declare impasse and state that no further progress can be made. A state mediator will be assigned and will press both parties to come to an agreement. If that fails, the parties must submit to fact-finding, followed by arbitration. After arbitration, the district can decide to impose the terms of its last offer. At that point, the union is legally allowed to strike. 


Past Updates
All negotiations updates are posted on our website here.


Next Session
The BFT and BUSD teams will meet again for an all-day session on October 28th.
Questions, Comments, Feedback?

For information or to offer comments please contact BFT President Matt Meyer at

This Negotiations Update was prepared by BFT Treasurer Cynthia Allman and edited by the BFT Negotiations Team.