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February 2016

In this issue: Community Event on March 3rd, March 1st Deadline for LOA Requests, Grants & Fellowships Available to Teachers, and more….

March 3rd! Community Event with Brian Jones at Longfellow Middle School!

BFT is hosting a discussion between BUSD Board Member Ty Alper and New York educator and activist Brian Jones on the links between fighting for racial justice, defending public education, and resisting corporate education reform and an over-emphasis on standardized testing. It’s going to be a lively, inspiring discussion and we hope all members will come out! Pizza served at 5:30PM, event begins at 6:00.There will be time for Q&A!

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 2016-2017 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”.

Note: Teachers Report to Work on FRIDAY Next School Year

The 2016-2017 school calendar is finally set. Due to some quirks in where days of the year fall, teachers will report to work on Friday, August 26th, 2016. This is a change from recent practice, so make summer plans accordingly!

Your 2016 CFT Convention Delegates Are…

Too many to name! This year’s CFT Convention takes place in San Francisco March 11th-13th, and BFT is sending its full complement of 32 delegates. The group is made up of teachers from Berkeley Adult School, Berkeley Independent Study, Berkeley Technology Academy, Berkeley High, Berkeley Arts Magnet, Oxford, LeConte, King, Longfellow, Willard, King CDC, BUSD Substitutes, and BUSD Retirees. Thank you to all delegates for your service, and looking forward to a great convention!

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.

REMINDER: Please Do NOT “Rate” Subs in Aesop

Substitutes are not restaurants on Yelp. They are our colleagues, peers, and union brothers and sisters. While Aesop has this function and can’t turn it off, please do not use it. It’s dehumanizing and we should show our colleagues more respect.
Conference for TOC Committed to Racial Justice—June 22nd-24th 2016
Just an informational item about a powerful conference called the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice in Los Angeles June 22nd-24th. Rosa Parks teacher and TOCN Facilitator Joemy Ito-Gates attended last year and reports it was downright transformative. More information and applications available at instituteforteachersofcolor.org.

BPSF Summer Fellowship Opportunity

Berkeley Public Schools Fund (BPSF) is pleased to announce its 2016 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.berkeleypublicschoolsfund.org and click on the “Grants” tab. Teachers must be at least in their third year in BUSD to apply, and the window for applying for grants closes at 5:00PM on February 29th.

Deadline for Filing 2015 Flexible Spending Account Reimbursement

Reminder: those with money still left in the Flexible Spending accounts have until March 31st, 2016 to submit reimbursement claims for expenses incurred in 2015. For FSA purposes, one may incur expenses up until March 15th, 2016 to file in the 2015 expense year.

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.

Former CFT President and Founder of Bay Area Writing Project Miles Myers Passes Away

California educators, labor organizers, and writers lost a giant on December 15th when Miles Myers passed away from complications of heart disease. Miles had a long, illustrious career that included one Bachelor’s, two Master’s, and a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, years teaching in OUSD, serving as President of the California Federation of Teachers, and founding the Bay Area Writers Project, an invaluable resource for English teachers across the state. 

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, 2016. 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 9:00PM, restarting the process at 6:00a.m. the following morning.  BFT encourages members to record absences in Aesop as early as possible. 

Tax Reminder: Free Tax Filing Services Available.

The IRS offers free online tax filing at irs.gov for people who made less than $62,000 in 2015. The United Way also offers assistance to low- and moderate-income households at earnitkeepitsaveit.org. Don’t forget that BFT dues are 1.4% of your gross income, and they’re tax-deductible.

Calendar of Coming Events

February 12th Lincoln’s Birthday Holiday- No School
February 15th President’s Day Holiday- No School
February 29th Deadline for Berkeley Public Schools Fund 
                                Summer Fellowship Grant Applications
March 1st         Deadline for Sabbatical and LOA Requests
March 3rd         BFT Event with Brian Jones & Ty Alper