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January 6, 2016

In this issue: Successful 12/10 Event, March 3rd with Brian Jones, STRS Workshop, CFT Convention, AFT Short-Term Disability Insurance, and more…

Great Community Event on December 10th!

A big thank you to all BFT members who attended our community forum on December 10th, “Dreaming Big: Public Education in Berkeley”—there was a great, diverse crowd of educators, students, and community members. The panel discussion was robust and audience discussion was wide-ranging and interesting. Hope to see everyone at our NEXT event on March 3rd at Longfellow with New York educator and activist Brian Jones!

March 3rd Event at Longfellow: Discussion with Educator and Activist Brian Jones!

On March 3rd at 6:00PM, in the Longfellow MS auditorium, BFT’s community event series continues with educator and activist Brian Jones, straight from New York City. A longtime teacher, Brian is a dynamic speaker on the connection between standardized testing and structural racism in our school system. Come help BFT kick off the testing season with a powerful discussion on testing and civil rights.

Mark Your Calendar—STRS Retirement Planning Workshop on January 14th

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 14th, 2016, at 4 pm in the Multipurpose Room at the Berkeley Adult School, 1701 San Pablo Ave. (at Virginia). 

Important BSEP Community Meeting February 25th, 6:00 @ Malcolm X

As the 2016 BSEP parcel tax renewal process starts to heat up, teacher voice in designing the measure is absolutely critical. BFT urges ALL members to come out and be heard at a BSEP community event at 6:00PM in the Malcolm X auditorium on February 25th. Your ideas are important!

CFT Convention in San Francisco This Year—Nominations Due by January 22nd

This year’s CFT convention is in San Francisco—this means we want to send our full complement of 30+ delegates! The convention runs March 11-13 and is a great way to learn more about our statewide union, about educational activism, and to influence education policy and work statewide. BFT will reimburse transportation and food costs for all delegates. Please see the salmon-colored nomination form in your box for more information. Nominations are due Friday, January 22nd.

Planning to Retire This Year? Notify BUSD by February 6th for a $1,000 Bonus!

Just a reminder that if you notify BUSD of your decision to retire by February 6th, you receive a $1,000 early notification bonus. More info is in the BFT Retirement FAQ, available at the BFT website.

AFT Short-Term Disability Product

Unfortunately, Mutual of Omaha has decided NOT to offer their short-term disability product to BUSD after all. The good news is that AFT has a similar product available for purchase—more information can be found at

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 the “Forms” page on the BFT website for the brief and easy-to-complete application.

BFT Supporting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast

At its December meeting, the BFT Executive Board voted to sponsor the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast at HS Lordships on MLK Day, January 18th, 2016. This is an important event for the Berkeley community and we’re honored to be a part of making it happen.

BFT Hoodies for Sale!

Brrrr! It’s COLD out there. Now that winter has finally returned to the Bay Area for real, a BFT hoodie can keep you warm and cozy. Don’t have one yet? Email BFT Vice President John Becker at BFT Hoodies cost $25.00 and come in Navy (men’s) and Black (women’s).

Are You Considering a Sabbatical or Leave of Absence for Next Year?

Eligible teachers who plan to apply for a sabbatical leave or request a full-time unpaid leave of absence for the 2016-2017 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 FAQs on the BFT website for more information, both found under “Resources—FAQs.”  The Leave of Absence Request form is on our website under “Resources-Forms”.

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 or 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.

Calendar of Coming Events

 January 14 STRS Workshop for Veteran Teachers, 4:00PM @ Adult School
 January 18 Martin Luther King Jr Holiday - No School
 January 27 Elementary Staff Development/ Secondary Semester Break
 February 1 Deadline for Leave of Absence Extension Requests
 March 1 Deadline for Sabbatical Applications & Leave of Absence Requests
 March 3 Brian Jones Event @ Longfellow Auditorium