2/13/17: This negotiation session was the district’s opportunity to begin bringing forth proposals and responding to BTU’s proposals. Many of the district’s proposals dealt with updating language to reflect current department names and job titles.
The district did conceptually agree in whole or in part with previously submitted BTU language in some articles, but also offered changes to several BTU proposals:
The district countered BTU’s proposal to have five, not four of the 10 planning days occur at the beginning of the school year, and proposed that no other activities except teacher planning take place on two of the five days. In the event a staff meeting is needed on one of those two days, it may not exceed one hour. President Anna Fusco said BTU would not agree with that and will offer make a counterproposal.
The district questioned BTU’s proposal that teachers be given 10 days to propose their lesson plans, stating that it seemed like an excessive amount of time. BTU gave examples of why some teachers may need 10 days to provide their lesson plans and also pointed out that while some principals demand that plans be printed out and on their desk rather than on the computer, teachers sometimes do not have access to printer paper or a printer to be able to print out their lesson plans. The district stated it may be able to work with the language in this article.
BTU said it does not agree with and rejects the district’s request that language be added to the contract requiring teachers to notify the designated school site administrator of an intended absence at least one hour before the start of the regular workday in addition to notifying the sub locator system if the employee notified the sub locator system after midnight on the day of an absence.
BTU said it does not agree with and rejects the district’s desire to replace section 4, Steward Super-Seniority with language offering one union steward of a school hosting summer school the right to be granted super-seniority as determined by BTU and be given priority consideration at the summer site at their own school. Stewards at sites not hosting summer school would be placed in the regular summer school pool. The district explained the logic behind the change is to open the opportunity to more teachers and to first employ summer school teachers with a Highly Effective rating before opening positions to teachers rated Effective, a move BTU President Anna Fusco said pits teachers against one another.
The district proposed adding language to the section requiring elementary school teachers to submit end of year grades two days prior to the last student attendance day. No other changes were made to the section. BTU will be countering with language that will assure teachers will ample time to get the grades done.
To allow adequate processing time for leave requests, the district proposed adding language that an employee may request a return to active employment before the expiration of a leave subject to the approval of the superintendent, and that if approved, the district shall place the employee in a vacant position within their choice of certification and geographic area, as the contract currently states. There would be no change to the contract provision that if the employee rejects the position offered by the district, s/he may not return to work until the leave expires.
02/24, 10 a.m. @ BTU
03/02, 9 a.m. @ Fort Lauderdale High School
1/23/17: BTU negotiations team keeps up pressure on district to restore teaching and planning time
In attendance for BTU: Melanie Birken, Laura Clark, Anna Fusco (BTU president/co-chief negotiator), Jim Gard, Nympha Girard, Doug Green, Richard Judd, Joan King, Hall Krantz, Mark Richard (chief negotiator), Robin Rothman, Henry Sergey, Lisa Yurkin, Andy Ford. Not present: Nathalie Lynch-Walsh, Libby Navarrete (counsel).
In attendance for the district: Melinda Cunningham, principal; Dorothy Davis, chief negotiator; Oleg Gorokhovsky, budget director; Doug Griffin, SBBC counsel; Horace Hamm, principal; James Hayes, co-chief negotiator; Jennifer Hodder, department secretary; Heather Parente, director of employee evaluations; Priscilla Ribeiro, principal; Susan Rockleman, director, talent and acquisition, instructional; Alan Strauss, HS dcadre leader. Not present: Diego DeRose, employee evaluations; Michael Gleason, principal.
Both sides returned to the bargaining table on Monday, January 23 for a robust discussion of Article 5, Conditions of Employment, sections A, B, D G, J, K and L.
BTU argued that the extra duties forced on teachers at all levels—such as lunch duty, playground supervision, walking students to and from specials, the bus or lunch-- are severely impacting teachers' planning and teaching time.
BTU strongly questioned whether the district is adhering to Article A of the contract, which states "every effort shall be made to relieve employees of all non-professional supervisory and clerical responsibilities," which in addition to the above could include money collection or transmittal. The district said that relieving teachers of escorting students to and from classes or the bus, for example, could cause a safety issue, since schools do not have adequate personnel to take on those duties.
BTU countered that PLCs, team meetings, collaborative planning and other items being mandated by principals can all be taken away without impacting student safety. The district promised to examine what and how responsibilities could be trimmed without causing any negative impact to students.
The district questioned BTU's request to alter section B of Article 5, Materials and Storage. At the last bargaining session, BTU's team asked that teachers be provided with hard copies of all textbooks they use, per current contract language. The district pointed out that in some cases the textbook is only produced in e-book format and no hard copy exists. As for our request that per contract language, educators and itinerant workers such as social workers and speech language pathologists be provided with a lockable space to secure valuables, the district said it would be willing to ensure that such space does exist at every work site.
Section D, Duty-Free Lunches, was also brought up by BTU, with the district agreeing that educators are entitled to a duty-free lunch as long as it begins after the teacher drops their students off at the cafeteria.
BTU reminded the district of the language in Article 5, Section K, Faculty Meetings, emphasizing that faculty meetings should impact teacher planning time as little as possible. However, the district pointed out that sometimes faculty meetings will impact planning time, as it isn't always possible to hold meetings only on teacher planning days or between the limited time teachers report to work and school begins. The district requested to leave the article open so they can amend contract language to satisfy what BTU is requesting.
The district also responded to BTU's proposal to reduce the amount of professional development time educators use during the year, which BTU has proposed be reduced from 27 to 10 hours (Teacher Planning Days, section L, number 3). The district said that It believes that educators are using the 27 hours for recertification courses. BTU asked the district to provide data to prove that and said it believes that professional development hours should be more self-directed and flexible.
The district requested to leave two sections open for further discussion: O, Interruptions to Teaching; and S, Lesson Plans.
BTU gave the district its proposed language changes to section D of article 29, asking that the contract be amended so as not to require advance permission from the principal for a BTU employee to transact official union business on school property so long as it does not interfere with or disrupt normal school operations. The district will take it under advisement and report its decision at the next negotiations session.
BTU presented the district with several language changes to section A 5, allowing employees who are asked to submit to a physical or psychological evaluation after employment to seek a second opinion at his or her expense and a third opinion, at the district's expense, should the two opinions be contradictory. BTU also asked that employees continue to be paid throughout the examination process.
BTU also proposed language changes to section C, Substitutes, to include school social workers, school guidance counselors, speech-language pathologists, school psychologists, media specialists and ESE specialists as employees eligible to have a substitute appointed if s/he will be absent for at least 20 consecutive work days.
In section L, Back to School Night/Open House, BTU has proposed to the district that all employees who must attend any more than one such event be compensated for three hours at their hourly rate; and proposed deleting language that high schools on a 4 x 4 block schedule may plan a second back to school night.
- 1/30: both sides to caucus separately
- 2/13: 1:30 p.m. at BTU
- 2/24: 10 a.m. at BTU
- 3/2: 9 a.m. at location TBD
01.09.2017 First negotiations session highlights upgrading working conditions, planning and teaching time
The EP negotiations team held its first contract bargaining session with the District on Monday, January 9, presenting impassioned and strong arguments about aspects of the contract focusing on workload and working conditions.
The District's Chief Negotiator, Dorothy Davis, expressed the District's gratitude and respect for educational professionals, acknowledged the Board's increasing awareness and willingness to respond to workplace issues, and pledged to "collaborate" with BTU in order to negotiate the "best possible contract." "There is no great divide" between the district and teachers, Davis said, and assigned blame for current conditions to federal and state policies.
While the District's stated willingness to begin a "new day with new possibilities" was an encouraging opening to contract talks, the EP negotiations team will test the sincerity of the District's position.
The School District's team heard negotiations team members describe first-hand dangerous working conditions, such as mold and mildew, that are creating such serious health hazards that teachers and students are unable to enter the school building. Team members highlighted the contract articles that address planning and teaching time and workload, all of which currently are causing unnecessary stress and forcing teachers to work without pay well beyond their contract hours.
Among items our BTU negotiating team asked for were:
- For educators to be relieved of all clerical duties
- For educators to be provided with a hard copy of the teacher editions of all books
- To be provided with a lockable storage space in every classroom
- Private office space and district cellphones for guidance counselors and social workers
They also asked that faculty meetings be scheduled so as not to interrupt teacher planning, and that teachers receive one additional planning day at the beginning of the school year, with the only permissible interruption to teacher planning be limited to one one-hour staff meeting.
To address pervasive mold and mildew issues in our schools, the BTU negotiating team asked the district to provide health and safety inspection reports on code regulation charges or complaints, member injuries, mold, mildew, building health, progress reports, school site repairs and RFPs for people who inspect for mold and mildew.
One negotiating team member, a school social worker, addressed the fact that social workers, guidance counselors and speech and language pathologists have such an extreme workload of multiple schools and hundreds of students that they can do little more than put bandages on gaping wounds that require far more attention than they are able to provide, and asked that the district address the extreme need for more professionals in these areas.
Future negotiations sessions will deal with other aspects of the contract, including compensation.
Future session dates will be announced on btuonline.com.
12.12.2016 Bargaining Kicks Off!
The BTU EP (Teacher) negotiation team met with the District team on Monday, Dec. 12 at BTU Hall to open up contract negotiations. BTU President Anna Fusco began the session with impassioned opening remarks articulating our member's expectations for negotiations outcomes. (View President Fusco's address .)
The meeting accomplished in one session what in previous years had taken multiple sessions. Both sides agreed to ground rules and set dates for the next three sessions, a positive start which we hope foreshadows successful negotiations. Time will tell when the difficult work begins in the next three sessions.