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February 11, 2015

In this issue: “Teachers Across Berkeley” on February 19th, BFT Black Lives Matter Action, March 1st Deadline for LOA Requests, Grants & Fellowships Available to Teachers, and more….

BFT Contract Campaign Kicks Off With “Teachers Across Berkeley” Action!

On February 19th, BFT members from every corner of the city will walk through business districts thanking citizens and small business owners for their support during last year’s contract negotiations. Teachers will also update businesses on the state of our current negotiations and the health benefits increases we’re facing and bring them a new placard for their windows. A big thank you to King MS teacher Julie Searle for designing the placard! Please join your brothers and sisters for this fun, empowering, and uplifting event! Talk to your BFT Site Rep about how you can get involved. And make sure to patronize Berkeley businesses with placards in their window—let them know that together we build a supportive community for our students!

BFT Urges All Members to Declare that Black Lives Matter

At its January 15th meeting, the BFT Executive Board unanimously passed a resolution declaring support for the Black Lives Matter movement. As a further step, the BFT Organizing Team has commissioned a BFT Black Lives Matter poster for all K-12 members from BHS teacher Miriam Stahl. These posters, along with a resource guide for K-12 educators, the Executive Board resolution, and background materials on why Black Lives Matter instead of All Lives Matter, will be distributed very soon. Please put the poster up either in your classroom or in a window where it will be visible from the schoolyard and/or the street. Together, we can make a strong statement for civil rights and racial justice.

BFT Calls Members to Mobilize for May 6th BUSD Board Meeting

Mark your calendars now—BFT asks all members to mobilize for the May 6th BUSD School Board meeting at 2020 Bonar St. Way from 7:30-8:30. Much more information to come from your Site Reps; for now just please plan on giving one hour of your time on May 6th in support of contract negotiations and the amazing work that Berkeley teachers do each and every day.

March 1st Deadline for Sabbatical and Leave of Absence Requests

If you are an eligible teacher and want to apply for a sabbatical leave, or you plan to request an automatic full-time unpaid leave of absence for the 2015-2016 school year, you must notify the Human Resources Office by March 1st .We strongly recommend that you check the FAQs on the BFT website for more information. Both FAQ’s can be found on our website under “Resources-FAQs”.

Come to BFT Membership Meeting on Thursday, March 5th on Technology and Testing in BUSD!

There is a meeting for all BFT members on March 5th at 4:00PM. It will take place in the Berkeley Adult School Multipurpose Room and snacks will be provided. Come share your experience, concerns, and ideas for action on these two critical topics!

Nomination Period for BFT Elections Runs from March 5th to May 7th

Are you interested in running for BFT office? Nominations for BFT President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary open at the March 5th membership meeting and close at the May 7th meeting.

Deadline for Filing 2014 Flexible Spending Account Reimbursement

Reminder: those with money still left in the Flexible Spending accounts have until March 31st, 2015 to submit reimbursement claims for expenses incurred in 2014. For FSA purposes, one may incur expenses up until March 15th, 2015 to file in the 2014 expense year.

BFT Offers Social Justice Service Learning Grants

As the César Chávez commemoration period and Harvey Milk Day approach in the spring, we encourage teachers to take advantage of BFT’s Social Justice Service Learning Grant. This grant funds materials that teachers may need to teach lessons about social justice. Please see our website for the very brief and easy-to-complete application.

Your 2015 CFT Convention Delegates Are…

Congratulations to Britt Alamo, Dana Blanchard, Dan Plonsey, and Roger Smith-Truss—they’ve been elected as BFT’s delegates to the 2015 CFT Convention in Los Angeles, March 20-22. BFT thanks these members for their service.
Are You Planning to Take Courses Next Semester? Course Approval Needed
In order to receive credit for salary schedule advancement, teachers MUST submit requests for prior course approval to the BUSD Human Resources Department on the required form, including for courses related to earning a Master’s degree. This rule applies to ALL courses, including those counting towards a Master’s degree. This form is available under “Schedules” on the BFT website.

BPSF Summer Fellowship Opportunity

Berkeley Public Schools Fund (BPSF) is pleased to announce its 2015 Summer Fellowship program to encourage teachers to undertake a significant summer learning project of their choosing, one which will add greater depth, understanding, and breadth of perspective to their teaching practice. To learn more about the Fellowship, eligibility requirements, and application procedures, go to www.bpef-online.org and click on the “Grants” tab. The window for applying for grants closes at 5:00PM on March 2nd.

AFT Higher Education Scholarship for AFT Members & Their Dependents

Are you continuing your education? Do you have a dependent that is a senior in high school and is planning on attending college? AFT can help! As part of the Robert G. Porter Scholars Program, the AFT offers four $8,000 scholarships to high-achieving high school seniors who are dependents of AFT members. They also offer ten $1,000 grants to AFT members seeking to continue education in their field of work. Application deadline is March 31st, 2015. For more information, go to www.aft.org/about/member-benefits/scholarships.

Note: Aesop Stops Calling for Subs After 9:00PM

Reminder to all BFT members: the Aesop system stops calling subs to fill jobs at 9:00 pm, restarting the process at 6:00 am the following morning. BFT encourages members to record absences in Aesop as early as possible.

Calendar of Coming Events

 February 19th Day of Action—Teachers Across Berkeley (after school)
 February 13th
 Lincoln’s Birthday Holiday- No School
 February 16th President’s Day Holiday- No School
 March 1st
 Deadline for Sabbatical and LOA Requests
 March 2nd Deadline for Berkeley Public Schools Fund Summer Fellowship Grant Applications