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April 10, 2015

In this issue: All Members Asked to Mobilize for ONE Hour on May 6th; BFT-Sponsored Screening of Defies Measurement on April 30th; Information about Custody Battles, and more…

Mark Your Calendars for May 6th ALL-MEMBER Mobilization!

On May 6th we need ALL BFT members to come out to the School Board for ONE hour in support of a competitive contract settlement. Teachers must receive competitive compensation that allows us to make a life in the Bay Area! Please plan on attending the Board meeting at 1231 Addison Street (around the corner from the BUSD Bonar Street building) from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. wearing your BFT gear. This is our ONLY all-member mobilization this spring.  Negotiations will take place the next day. Your presence on May 6th WILL make a difference!  We need ALL members to attend!

Are You Concerned About Standardized Testing?

Are you concerned about standardized testing? Do you believe that students’ education cannot be measured with a single test? Are you concerned about the uses of data from this spring SBA tests? Join us for a screening of Defies Measurement, a new one-hour documentary film by BUSD parent Shannon Puckett about the impact of standardized testing on our schools. Dinner will be provided beforehand and there will time for discussion with the filmmaker following the screening. This event is April 30 and runs from 5:30 to 7:30 (film at 6pm) at the Berkeley Technology Academy auditorium, 2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Should I Get Involved in a Custody Situation?

BFT strongly recommends that all BFT members decline when asked by one parent to write a letter of support in a custody dispute involving a current or past student. Such statements go beyond our area of expertise and risk requests and/or demands for greater involvement by the teacher in the conflict. If you find yourself facing such a request and would like advice, please do not hesitate to contact BFT at 549-2307.

BFT Advice on SBA Test

We know that many teachers are beginning to feel anxious about this year’s “operational” SBA testing. Given this, we’d like to offer a few thoughts. First, BFT will strongly support teachers who do not want to administer practice tests in advance of their site’s testing window. BFT does not believe practice tests to be an effective use of instructional time. Secondly, teachers should remember that while they do not have the right to advocate that parents opt their child out of the SBA, they do have the right to inform families of their right to opt out. For more details, see the SBA FAQ on the BFT website.

Don’t Forget to Request Course Approval for Summer Courses

If you plan to take summer courses to move over on the salary schedule and increase your compensation, you must submit a BUSD course approval request no later then two weeks after the start of the course. The credits you earn will not count towards salary advancement unless you get prior approval. For more information see the “Course Approval” FAQ on the BFT web site. The needed form is also on the BFT website.

Leaving BUSD at the End of the School Year? 

Please notify the Human Resources office in writing (and please “cc” the BFT office) as soon as possible if you are certain that you will be retiring or resigning your position in BUSD at the end of this school year. Early notifications will have a direct and positive impact on temporary teachers who have not yet been rehired for next year. 

Nominations for BFT Officers Close May 7th

Elections for BFT executive officers (President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer) will be held this spring. Nominations will close at the May 7th general membership meeting. Nominations can be made on the form you received in your box. Contested elections are good for Union democracy, so don’t hesitate to nominate a colleague or yourself. 

Are You Interested in a Job Share Next Year?

If you are a K-5 teacher interested in a job share for 2015-2016 please leave a message for BFT at 549-2307 so that we can connect you with other teachers seeking job shares.

Voluntary Transfer Rights Provided by the BFT/BUSD Contract

The BFT/BUSD contract provides teachers the right to request a voluntary transfer to an open position at a different school so long as they have a positive evaluation and meet certain criteria (e.g. certification, credential, minimum years teaching experience, specialized training, etc.). If you have questions about how to make use of your rights in this area please consult the FAQ on the BFT website. You should also carefully monitor certificated job listings posted to your BUSD email. 

Are You Interested in a Reduced Workload Leave, aka a “Willie Brown” Leave?

A Reduced Workload Leave (RWL) allows a teacher to work part-time but still receive BUSD contributions to STRS and benefits as though they were working full-time. To be eligible, a teacher must be at least 55 years old and have worked in a certificated position for at least 10 years, with the last 5 years full-time. Teachers can take RWL up to .50 FTE under state law, and the deadline for notifying BUSD HR is July 15, 2015. For more information, check the Reduced Workload Leave FAQ on the BFT website.

Longtime BUSD Teacher Cheryl Marsh Passes Away

Longtime BUSD teacher and strong union activist Cheryl Marsh passed away on March 12th after a long illness. Our deepest condolences go out to her family and to the communities of the schools where Cheryl served.

Calendar of Coming Events

 April 30th BFT Screening of Defies Measurement
 May 6th Mobilization @ BUSD School Board Meeting
 May 18th Staff Development Make-up Day
 May 18th Malcolm X Birthday Holiday
 May 21 Elementary School Open House