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Urgent Alert and Information on the November 2nd Election

posted Sep 1, 2010, 5:06 PM by Erik Pearson   [ updated Sep 1, 2010, 5:11 PM ]

The November 2nd election is critical for our members’ economic security and the future of public education in our state.  We urge ALL members to play an active role in this campaign.

Here are the top priority items for BFT and our members in this election:


#1 – We must pass Proposition 25, the “Budget On Time Act”, and end the deadlock in Sacramento.  Prop 25 would change the requirement for adopting a state budget to a simple majority vote. This would mean that a minority of Republican legislators could NO longer hold the state budget hostage every year in exchange for corporate tax loopholes and attacks on worker rights.

#2 – We must pass the maintenance parcel tax renewal and construction bond, Measures H and I, on the ballot in Berkeley. The parcel tax brings in $5 million per year. Without this vital revenue the District will likely cut general fund expenditures to fund maintenance, which may very well mean cutting teacher jobs.  Bond funds are sorely needed for many projects, including the completion of the South of Bancroft project at BHS.

#3 – We must elect Jerry Brown as Governor. Jerry Brown created collective bargaining for teachers and believes in government as a vital part of civilized society. “Wall Street Whitman” will slash public service jobs and workers’ rights, and will impose education reform with no collaboration with teachers and their Unions.

#4 – We must elect incumbent Karen Hemphill, and newcomers Leah Wilson and Josh Daniels to the School Board. These three candidates are endorsed by BFT and it’s critical that we play a strong role in electing them. The School Board elected in November will be the Board that ratifies our next contract. For more information on these candidates please go to the BFT web site: berkeleyfederationofteachers.org.

How Can You Help?

  • We will be leafleting at elementary Back-to-School Nights on September 23rd and September 30th for 45 minutes (probably 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.). These are fabulous events to educate voters!
  • We will have phone banking at the BFT office every Monday in October from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Dinner and easy-to-use scripts are provided.
  • We will be precinct walking on Saturday, October 2nd. Please join us!
  • Please email bft4tchr@lmi.net if you can help with any of the above.

Information on Proposed Cuts to Berkeley Adult School

posted Jun 22, 2010, 4:39 PM by Erik Pearson   [ updated Sep 1, 2010, 5:06 PM ]

05/01/2010
The Off-Site program at the Berkeley Adult School serves both adults with disabilities and seniors. Our program is the only one in Berkeley that tailors its classes specifically for these important and vulnerable populations. 

For many of our sites we are the majority of their program. Our classes provide a crucial lifeline for both physical and mental health and for easily accessible life-long learning. They are located in diverse community centers and offered at little or no cost. If they are eliminated, our students will have no place else to go."

Students describe the importance of the classes as: “life transforming”, “I have learned through self-applied acupressure to cope with grieving the loss of my husband and to help heal a severe tendonitis”(Moving Qi Class), “when I first came I could barely walk; now I’m only stiff in the morning – and what can you expect in the morning” (Arthritis Relief Class), “this is where I grow” (Poetry Workshop).

The need for growth doesn’t end at any age; we all need a place to learn. People are not less important because they are old. People are not less deserving of education because they are disabled. The students in this program are part of the larger community for our K-12 students – grandparents who model going to school, artists and political activists who shape the environment around our children. 

Last summer our program took a 50% budget reduction. The district currently receives almost a million dollars more than we cost from a block grant based on our program’s historic ADA. For years we generated more money for the district than we needed – those funds supported other BAS programs such as ESL and GED. Should we return to ADA funding, the elimination of the off-site classes will be a funding loss for the entire school. 

Many of the parcel tax payers in Berkeley who have voted consistently to support education are over 55 and are students in this program – this is the one place that is designed to answer their educational needs – and it doesn’t cost a lot. The district notes that our total elimination will save just over $400,000. This is less than half of 1% of the total district budget. We serve over 1600 students in 19 sites with this funding.
Please support the continuation of the Berkeley Adult School Program for Older Adults and Adults with Disabilities.

Kathleen Davis
Program Coordinator

BFT AND BUSD MEET ON BUSD PROPOSAL FOR FURLOUGH DAYS IN 2010-2011

posted Jun 6, 2010, 9:15 AM by Erik Pearson   [ updated Jun 6, 2010, 9:16 AM ]

On May 3, 2010, BFT and BUSD met to negotiate on the District’s proposal of two furlough days for BFT members in 2010-2011. This proposal is part of a package of cuts recommended by District staff to close a $2.7 million deficit in the 2010-2011 budget. This deficit is caused by the governor’s proposed $2.5 billion cut in funding for public education next year (in addition to increased costs for materials and services and a negative state COLA for 2010-2011). The governor and legislature have cut public education by $18 billion in the last two years (08/09 and 09/10).

The District proposed that the October Staff Development day, and the mid-year Staff Development day (November for secondary teachers; January for elementary teachers) be designated as unpaid non-work days in the 2010-2011 school year. For Adult School teachers the District proposed that the first of the two August Staff Development days and the January Staff Development day be unpaid non-work days in 2010-2011.

The District has recommended that in the absence of a successful agreement on furlough days they will eliminate two programs at the Adult School: the Older Adult program (which consists of the Life-Long Learning Program for Adults 55+ and the Frail Elderly program at 13 community centers); and the Adults With Disabilities program (which provides program at a variety of community sites, including the East Bay Center for the Blind, the Creative Living Center and BORP). This will lead to the layoff of approximately 35 Adult School teachers and the closure of 86 class sections (including the elimination of most programming at our Berkeley senior centers). In addition, the District proposes to eliminate two more BHS counseling positions (two positions were eliminated in 2009-2010) if they cannot recoup significant savings through furloughs.

BFT made a very reasonable counter-proposal to the District at the May 3rd negotiations session. BUSD is considering this proposal and the two parties will meet again on May 27th. BFT’s proposal emphasizes the concept of shared sacrifice and the importance of professional development for teachers necessary to retain highly qualified staff and to achieve the 2020 Vision for Berkeley’s Children and Youth.

If you have a strong opinion on the District’s furlough proposal, it’s important for you to communicate with your Site Rep, or directly with BFT by emailing us at bft4tchrlmi.net. In particular, if you have a strong opinion about placing one or two furlough days on a student instructional day versus on a Staff Development day, it will help the BFT Negotiations Team to hear from you.

BFT has tentatively scheduled a general membership meeting for Thursday, June 3rd, in order to update our membership on these negotiations. This meeting would begin at 4pm and take place at the Berkeley Adult School multipurpose room. This meeting will be confirmed via a flier in your box and an “email blast” to the membership.

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