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February 14, 2014

In this issue: Successful “Teachers Across Berkeley” on February 11th, March 1st Deadline for LOA Requests, Grants & Fellowships Available to Teachers, and more….

BFT Contract Campaign Kicks Off—Hugely Successful “Teachers Across Berkeley” Action!

On February 11th, BFT members from every corner of the city walked through business districts thanking citizens and small business owners for their support during last year’s contract negotiations. Teachers also updated businesses on the state of our current negotiations and brought them a new, Valentine’s-themed placard for their windows. A big thank you to King MS teacher Julie Searle for designing the placard, and another big thank you to all BFT members who participated! If you missed this fun, empowering, and uplifting event, talk to your BFT Site Rep about how you can get involved in future contract campaign actions. And make sure to patronize Berkeley businesses with placards in their window—let them know that Berkeley Loves Teachers and Teachers Love Berkeley!

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 2014-2015 school year, you must notify the Human Resources Office by March 1st .We strongly recommend that you check the FAQ’s on the BFT website for more information. Both FAQ’s can be found on our website under “Resources-FAQs”.

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.

Deadline for Filing 2013 Flexible Spending Account Reimbursement

Reminder: those with money still left in the Flexible Spending accounts have until March 31st, 2014 to submit reimbursement claims for expenses incurred in 2013. For FSA purposes, one may incur expenses until March 15th, 2014 to file in the 2013 expense year.

BPSF Summer Fellowship Opportunity

Berkeley Public Schools Fund (BPSF) is pleased to announce its 2014 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 is January 31st-March 4th 2014.

AFT Higher Education Scholarship for AFT Members & Their Dependents

Are you continuing your education? Do you have a dependent who 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 $1000 grants to AFT members seeking to continue education in their field of work. Application deadline is March 31st, 2014. For more information, go to www.aft.org/benefits/scholarships.

BFT Members Appointed to BUSD’s Education Advisory Council

As part of developing BUSD’s Local Control Accountability Plan, the district has created an Education Advisory Council composed of classified staff, administrators, and 8 BFT members: Lauren Brollier, Kevin Anderson, Angela Reed, Anne Busacca-Ryan, Skyler Barton, Janelle Bugarini, Julie Venuto and BFT President Cathy Campbell. This council will take part in shaping BUSD’s accountability plan and in determining priorities for meeting the needs of our English language learners, foster youth, and students who qualify for free/reduced price lunch. Thank you to all these members for their participation in this very important process!

BCCE Declares Impasse in Contract Negotiations

Our sister union, the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees, has declared impasse after 3 years of negotiations have failed to produce agreement with BUSD.  A state mediator will now be appointed to attempt to resolve outstanding issues, which include issues of evaluation, involuntary transfers, and rights to sick leave and vacation time.  BFT stands in solidarity with BCCE and asks all BFT Site Reps to attend the February 19th BUSD School Board meeting in support of our classified brothers and sisters.

BFT Piloting Parent Workshops with Pre-K-8th Grade Teachers—Stipends Available!

BFT is currently starting a pilot program of parent workshops on a variety of topics with teachers from Preschool to 8th grade. As part of this work, teachers receive a $150 stipend to plan and host a workshop; BFT will also buy pizza for all attending. For more information, please check with your Site Rep or email BFT Vice-President at johnbecker@berkeley.net. 

Congratulations to National Board Certified Teacher Nicole Nagappan!

Berkeley High School math teacher Nicole Nagappan recently qualified as a National Board Certified Teacher.  Under our BFT/BUSD contract, Nicole will receive an annual stipend of $1600 and her certification fees will be reimbursed by BUSD. She joins a growing list of Berkeley teachers who have been certified.  BFT is proud to have such distinguished professionals among our ranks.  If you’d like more information about National Board Certification please contact the BFT office. 

Note: Aesop Stops Calling for Subs After 10:00p.m.

Reminder to all BFT members: the Aesop system stops calling subs to fill jobs at 10:00 p.m., restarting the process at 6:00 a.m. the following morning.  BFT encourages members to record absences in Aesop as early as possible. 

FAQ of the Month: SBAC Field Test!

Check the BFT website for an updated FAQ on the administration of this spring’s Field Test of the SBAC, which is the computer-based testing system replacing the CST.  

Important Change to Childrearing Leave

BFT members can now use all of their accrued Sick Leave for Childrearing Leave instead of being required to leave a reserve of sick days. 

Calendar of Coming Events

 February 19th BCCE Mobilization at BUSD School Board
 March 1st Deadline for Sabbatical and LOA Requests
 March 4th Deadline for Berkeley Public Schools Fund Summer Fellowship Grant Applications
 March 12th BFT mobilization for BUSD Board meeting