Welcome to 2010-2011: Challenges and Accomplishments

 August 25, 2010

 

Dear BFT Member,

I hope you have had a good summer and have found time for some rest and relaxation.  I want to take this opportunity to welcome you to what I hope will be an extremely rewarding 2010-2011 school year.

As we head into this new academic year, our Union is strong.  Here are some of the key accomplishments of the 2009-2010 school year:

  • In the worst recession of recent times we were able to preserve our current contract.  Unlike teachers in many surrounding areas, our members will not be experiencing furlough days, frozen step and column increases, decreased prep time, or reductions in District contributions to benefits in the 2010-2011 school year.
  • Working in tandem with hundreds of community members, we were successful in avoiding the complete dismantling of the Older Adult, Frail Elderly and Adults with Disabilities programs at our Adult School, thereby saving jobs and preserving vital programs.
  • We were successful in protecting the current level of counseling FTE at Berkeley High School when faced with a very serious proposal to further reduce this staffing.
  • We committed significant resources to the 2020 Vision for Berkeley’s Children and Youth and to the 2020 Planning Team.  Our Union and the teachers we represent, are seen as active, constructive and critical partners in this effort.
  • BFT officers, site reps and staff assisted hundreds of BFT members with information about our contractual rights, and helped in solving problems with the Payroll, Human Resources and Benefits offices.  We also made progress in addressing the root causes of the recurring issues.
  • We assisted B-Tech with the implementation of an innovative block schedule, and provided BHS teachers with information and a transparent democratic process for voting on a proposed advisory program for 2010-2011.
  • We organized the largest northern California delegation to the April 21st “Fight for California’s Future” rally in Sacramento and had a very successful March 4th event right here in Berkeley.

 

The year ahead is going to be a critical one for our members and we will need to build on these successes.  I want to update you on some of the most important issues and challenges we will face this year.

November 2010 Election Critical for the Future of Our Schools and Our Members

Not since the special election of 2005 has so much been at stake for our members, both locally and statewide.  Here are our top priorities for the fall election:

  • Passage of the Majority Vote Budget initiative, Prop 25, will begin to address the core structural problems that are devastating California’s education system.  Abolition of the 2/3 requirement will mean that a few Republican legislators can no longer hold the budget hostage demanding increased corporate tax deductions that lead to cuts in education funding.
  • The facilities construction bond and maintenance parcel tax up for renewal in Berkeley are critical to the fiscal and academic solvency of our district.   The bond will allow BUSD to complete BHS, in addition to many other key projects, and renewal of the maintenance parcel tax will help lessen future general fund cuts in BUSD.
  • Three BFT-endorsed School Board candidates will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the Board.  BFT has endorsed incumbent Karen Hemphill and newcomers Leah Wilson and Josh Daniels for the November School Board election.  Please see the enclosed material for more information on each candidate and please spread the word on these exciting leaders!
  • Jerry Brown must be elected as Governor of our state.  “Wall Street Whitman” is on record as attacking public employee pensions, and continued severe cuts to education funding are sure to follow if she is elected.  Whitman will impose education reform from the top without collaboration with teachers and their Unions.  Jerry Brown has a long record of support for working families and collaboration with labor.

It is critical that BFT members play a role in addressing the root causes of our state’s education funding crisis, and in electing the Board members who will ratify our next contract.

Negotiations – Current Contract Expires in June 2011

The current BFT/BUSD contract expires on June 30, 2011. When negotiations begin in the spring it is likely that BUSD will propose some very significant concessions in order to help close the 2011-2012 budget deficit.  It is critical that every BFT member stay informed (please read the Negotiations Updates that will come out regularly) and participate in the democratic processes of the Union that will direct the Negotiations Team.

The 2020 Vision: BFT Part of a Communitywide Approach to Closing Equity Gaps

BFT continues to prioritize resources toward realizing the 2020 Vision and supporting the communitywide effort to close equity gaps in our city. Our BFT Equity Committee is the internal body that coordinates this work.  If you are interested in joining this group please send me an email at bft4tchr@lmi.net.

One last thing: I urge you to consider joining the BFT/BUSD Sick Leave Bank if you are not already a member.  By joining the bank you agree to donate 3 sick days, one per year for 3 years, and in return you are eligible for 40+ days of sick leave from the bank in the case of illness or injury. Open Enrollment will take place in September (you will receive an FAQ and an enrollment form in your box).  This is a great no-cost insurance policy that can really help!

Please be sure to read the monthly BFT Action and to turn to your Site Rep(s) for help with any questions or concerns.  An informed membership is a powerful membership.  With your participation and support we can continue to advocate for the teaching and learning conditions that will empower us to provide the best possible education to our students.

Wishing you an excellent 2010-2011 school year!

 

In Unity,

 

Cathy Campbell                                               

President, BFT                                   


P.S. Our web site is recently updated and has a wealth of information available to members.  Please check it out at berkeleyfederationofteachers.org.