November 17, 2015
What Happened Recently
A summary of what’s been happening with your union lately:
Mark Your Calendar: MTA Retirement Seminar January 14, 3:30,
Mary Parry, the MTA’s retirement guru, will be holding a special seminar for BPS teachers at the BHS library on Thursday, January 14 at 3:30. This seminar is useful for anyone who is thinking in any way about retirement, whether you are 1 year away or 10 years away. Topics covered will include pensions, health insurance, and Social Security. I will send out a survey in early January to find out how many people plan to attend. This is a great opportunity, because Mary Parry has a reputation as “the man”(!) when it comes to retirement. Mark your calendar now!
P.S. I’m working on scheduling a separate retirement workshop for paraprofessionals. I’ll keep you posted.
Paraprofessionals’ Contract Negotiations:
Contract negotiations have begun. As you know, we can’t discuss details yet but will let you know as soon as we can.
Karen and Julia met with Sue Charochak on October 20. Items discussed included:
“Homework” for meetings:
Staff are not required to read articles, chapters, etc in preparation for after-school meetings. If discussion of a reading is planned for a meeting, staff should be given time at the beginning of the meeting to read. We are welcome to read ahead of time but not required to do so.
Staff at the elementary levels are being encouraged by their principals to “Tweet” about activities in their classrooms, but they are not required to do so. Increased use of Twitter as a form of family and community engagement is one of the goals agreed upon by the administration as a way of bringing BPS “into the 21st century.” Staff are also not expected to use their personal phones, etc. for “Tweeting.” Nor are staff required to create and maintain websites for their classrooms. The goal is communication with families, so the only requirement from central office is that teachers communicate regularly with parents in a manner that falls within the expectations of the school community.
We have been hearing many reports of teachers’ being asked, encouraged, or “voluntold” to do additional work: data reporting, locating and downloading 504s, websites, tutoring, additional smaller meetings, etc. Our position is that if a task is added to a teacher’s workload, then another task must be taken away. We discussed this concept with the administration but have reached no firm agreement yet.
Next Mutual Concerns Meeting: Wednesday, November 18
Items on our agenda include report card timing, SEI PD opportunities, laptop insurance, and (again) added work.
As of next Tuesday, your representative should have enough “Individual Professional Development Plan” (IPDP) folders for each teacher in your building. Printed and distributed by the MTA, this is an excellent tool for keeping track of the PDPs and credits that we earn towards recertification. The folder outlines the types of professional development that we must earn in each five-year cycle, including the new requirements for SEI (Sheltered English Immersion) course work and Special Education (15 PDPs).
Several of our super-organized colleagues use the folders as the receptacle into which they slip all transcripts and PD certificates that they earn, thus making it really easy to keep track of what they have earned and what they still need to do. This is much better than a random pile on your desk or, even worse, a cylindrical receptacle :-)
Heads up: I myself have been audited TWICE by DESE after applying for recertification (once in 2004 and again in 2014), so take it from me that it’s a really good idea to keep all of your documentation in one place.
I have now had the pleasure of meeting staff at all of the elementary schools and plan to visit Briscoe this Thursday 11/19. Sorry that finding time for and scheduling these visits took longer than I had originally anticipated! I’m looking forward to meeting as many members of the Briscoe staff as possible on Thursday, and to making another round of school visits sometime in the new year.
Governing Board Meeting
The Governing Board of the BTA will meet this Monday,November 23 at 3:30 in the BTA Office at 78 Water Street. All members are welcome. Agenda items include:
Distribution of IPDP Forms
Celebration of Excellence: should we change it?
Issue organizing: shall we try it?
If you can’t join us on Monday, you can ask your building rep for more information after the meeting. We’ll also publish the meeting minutes on the website after they are accepted by the Board at our December meeting.
Feature Item: Understanding Your Paycheck (Teachers’ Edition)
It’s a really good idea to study your pay stub every time time you receive it. Here are a few things to look for:
Top Left: “Base S”: This is your base salary. Multiply that number by 26, and the result should match the number on the salary scale (found in our contract) that you know you should be earning. If you are getting any extra pay for curriculum work, stipends, etc., those amounts will be listed in that section as well.
Middle Column: Deductions
“Reg Teachers:” This is your union dues. A full time teacher should be paying 46.05 per check. Union dues are deducted from 19 of our paychecks, for a total of $875 this year. Contact Julia if you have a question about the union dues that are being deducted from your check.
Bottom Right: Accumulated illness/family/personal days
Divide the numbers that you see there by 7 (as in hours), and you should get a number that coincides with your understanding of your accumulated days. Remember that our contract stipulates that professional status teachers contribute one day per year to the sick leave bank. Also, if you took a sick or personal day recently, the deduction might not appear until your next check.
There’s more to say about paychecks, but this section is too long already! If you don’t understand any part of your paycheck, start by asking your colleagues. Then ask me or Heather. Email Debi Tina only if you are pretty sure that there’s an error in your check.
I’ll be available for union business (meetings, longer phone calls, etc) during the school day on Thursday, November 19 this week. Next week: Monday and Wednesday. Week after Thanksgiving, Tuesday and Thursday. If you have a question or a concern and would like to talk to me, call me any day, any time after 7 a.m. and before 9 p.m. If I can’t answer, I’ll get back to you ASAP. Check the newsletter or Governing Board page for my cell number.