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January 6, 2014

In this issue: STRS Workshop THIS Thursday, Thrive Across America, Victory for Transgender Student Rights, Contract Campaign Kick-Off, Unfilled Sub Jobs, Leaves of Absence, Retirement Early Notification Bonus and more…

STRS Workshop THIS Thursday, January 9th

This workshop is designed for educators approaching retirement.  This is not a sales pitch or a gimmick.  STRS counselors will explain the basics of STRS retirement, the three decisions to make when retiring, and what you should be doing to prepare for retirement.  The meeting will take place January 9th, 2014, at 4 pm in the Multipurpose Room at the Berkeley Adult School, 1701 San Pablo Avenue (at Virginia).  Partners and spouses are welcome to attend.

Do You Plan to Retire Next Year?  $1000 Bonus Available for Early Notification

Teachers who formally notify BUSD in writing prior to February 7, 2014, that they plan to retire at the end of the current school year will receive a $1000 bonus.  To notify BUSD, teachers should use the separation form available on the BFT website and scan it into an email to Evelyn Bradley, Director of Personnel, at  Please cc BFT on the email.

SAVE THE DATE: Contract Campaign Kick-Off Coming Up on February 11th!

On February 11th, BFT members will return to businesses across the city in a “Teachers Across Berkeley” event, thanking them for their support and informing them of our current contract status.  This was a hugely successful and inspiring action during our 2012-2013 contract campaign, and we hope that all members will join us again in kicking off our 2013-2014 campaign for world-class compensation.  More details to come!

Thrive Across America: Physical Activity Program for BUSD Employees

As part of BUSD’s “Step Up” wellness initiative all employees are encouraged to form teams and to participate in “Thrive Across America.”  This is an online physical activity program meant to inspire friendly competition and enjoyment.  No matter what your fitness level you can compete and win prizes.  Registration and team formation runs from now through January 26th.  Go to for more information.

Want to Enroll Your Child in a Berkeley School?

Article 21.3 of the BUSD/BFT contract gives you this right, even if you do not live in Berkeley and are part-time. See the “Enrolling Your Child in a BUSD School” FAQ on our website for important information about enrolling your child in a BUSD school.

Unfilled Sub Jobs at Your Site: Your Rights and What You Can Do to Help

There has been trouble some trouble filling sub jobs districtwide this fall.  In the event of an unfilled job, elementary students can be distributed to other classrooms.  Teachers receiving these students are paid the daily substitute rate, pro-rated for the percentage of a class accepted.  Secondary teachers are paid 20% of their per diem rate for each period they voluntarily agree to sub.  It is very important for all teachers in this situation to fill out a blue time sheet to receive this pay every time they sub for a colleague.  In addition, it will be a great help if teachers can put their absences into Aesop as early as possible.

Are You Considering a Leave of Absence for Next Year?

Eligible teachers who plan to request a full-time unpaid leave of absence for the 2014-2015 school year must notify the Human Resources Office by March 1st to have the leave automatically granted (Article 12.1.2 of the BFT/BSUD Contract).  We strongly recommend that you check the Leave of Absence FAQ and leave request form on the BFT website for more information. 

Victory at the School Board—Transgender Student Protections Pass Unanimously!

With BFT assistance, Berkeley teachers, students and parents mobilized at the December 11th BUSD School Board meeting to urge the Board to pass AB1266 as district policy.  This law protects the right of transgender students to use facilities corresponding to their gender identity.  Thanks in part to our amazing students and the eloquent words of Miriam Stahl, Vanessa Sinai, and Kate Cohen, the Board voted unanimously to adopt the policy. 

250+ Come Out to See Inequality for All at Longfellow on December 5th

BFT hosted a great event on December 5th where we screened Robert Reich’s documentary Inequality for All and had a community discussion on how we can fight for equitable tax structures and to fully fund education.  Thanks to all who came out, and special thanks to BHS teacher Matt Meyer and the BFT organizing team for facilitating the event.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis Is Coming to Berkeley in March!

On March 25, 2014, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis will be speaking at King Middle School.  This event will be co-hosted by BFT, OEA, and KPFA.  Make sure you’re there to hear this incredible leader speak about Corporate Ed Reform and the role of unions in the fight to defend and improve quality public education!

BFT Hoodies for Sale!

Brrrr!  When we have a cold snap, doesn’t your BFT hoodie feel cozy?  Don’t have one, yet?  Ask your site rep to model one for you and for an order form.  In order to pay for the cost of the hoody we are charging $25 per hoody, in cash or checks made out to Berkeley Federation of Teachers.

Did You Know That Peer Coaching Is Available to All Teachers?

Are you teaching a new grade level or subject area this year? Have you transferred to a new school? Do you want to improve your teaching practice through one-to-one work with a peer coach? Do you have individual professional development needs that are not met through district-wide staff development days, or department/grade level meetings? Are you teaching with an intern credential? If you’re interested in having a peer coach, see the “Peer Coaching Opportunities” FAQ on our website.

Calendar of Coming Events

 January 9 STRS Workshop for Veteran Teachers, 4:00PM @ Adult School
 January 20 Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday -- No School
 January 27 Elementary Staff Development/Secondary Semester Break
 February 1 Deadline for Leave of Absence Extension Requests