November Newsletter

November 17, 2015

If you are a BTA member who is not currently receiving our newsletter, click on the link to the right to subscribe.

What Happened Recently

A summary of what’s been happening with your union lately:

Mark Your Calendar: MTA Retirement Seminar January 14, 3:30,
BHS Library

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.

Mutual Concerns
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.
Twitter/Class Websites:
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.
Added Work:
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.

IPDP Folders

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.

Building Visits

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:

Treasurer’s report
Membership update
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.

Julia’s Schedule

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.

BTA News, October 12

October 12, 2015
Welcome to the third edition of our quick read newsletter.  We hope that all BTA members will subscribe.  Our subscription list is growing, but we’re not there yet!If you know any BTA member who should be receiving the newsletter but isn’t, please forward this email to their NON-SCHOOL email address.  All they have to do is click on the “Subscribe” link at the top to be added to the list.

What Happened Recently

A summary of what’s been happening with your union lately:

Building Representatives:

Congratulations and THANK YOU to the people listed below, who are our BTA building representatives this year. It will not be necessary to conduct elections for building representatives in any of our schools this year, as we still have not reached the threshold required in our by-laws of one representative for every fifteen members in any building.

All of the people listed below are volunteering their time to help make our union strong!

Ayers:               Jody Johnson
Diane Moffett
Ellyn Sudak (Vice President)
BHS:                 Donna Brewster
(Julia Brotherton)
Giuliana DiGenova
Pennie Fraczek
Kevin Keilty
Cheryl Sydorko
Briscoe:            Joy Benosky
Karen Chambers (Vice President)
Robin Gillette
Cindy Kersting (Secretary)
Maureen Remondi
Beth Spoon (Membership)
Centerville:       Jillian Bailey
Cove:                 OPEN
(Heather Colton)
Hannah:             Steve Hewey
Maeve Moore
McKeown:         OPEN
North Beverly:  Joel Belmonte

As you can see, we still have a few openings, especially at COVE and MCKEOWN.  If you are considering joining this great group and would like to know more about what the job entails, talk to your current rep, send me an email, or come to the building representative training conducted by the dynamic and entertaining Charmaine Champagne (MTA field rep) on Monday, October 19 in the BHS library at 4:30.

Paraprofessionals’ Contract Negotiations:

Paraprofessionals have been working without a contract since September of 2014.  The negotiating team has met twice so far this year and is meeting on October 14 to finalize its list of demands. Heather is chairing the negotiating team; additional members are Ellyn Sudak, Pennie Fraczek, Cheryl Sydorko, Heidi Bissel, and Julia.   Charmaine Champagne, our top-notch MTA field representative, is lending her support and experience.  We hope to set dates for negotiations very soon.

If you are a para who works at Briscoe and can join the team, contact Heather:  we could use your input!

Meanwhile, let’s all do what we can to support our paraprofessional colleagues and to thank them for their hard work!
Raise Up Massachusetts Petition
Raise Up Massachusetts is a three-year campaign to amend our state constitution “to invest in quality public schools, affordable higher education, and a transportation system that works by creating an additional tax of four percentage points on annual income above one million dollars.” The first phase of the campaign involves gathering signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot.

October 3 was a cold and windy Saturday morning, but we were thankful that the rain held off.  Karen Chambers, Nancy Schalch, Jan MacDonald, Julia, Charmaine, and two more MTA field reps walked door-to-door in Beverly neighborhoods gathering signatures from BTA members for the Raise Up Massachusetts petition.  We gathered some signatures and had some great conversations along the way.

We still need more signatures!   You don’t have to believe in the idea of the additional tax to sign the petition.  You just need to believe that the citizens of Massachusetts should have the opportunity to vote directly about this issue.  The MTA does support the additional tax (remember: only on those who can afford it — those with annual income above one million dollars), which would bring much-needed revenue to our schools.

Ask your building rep if you’d like to sign the petition to Raise Up Massachusetts.
Building Visits
So far, I have visited the Centerville, Hannah, and North Beverly schools during lunch times.  It has been great to meet so many teachers and paraprofessionals and to learn more about your schools and your concerns.  I’ll be visiting visit Cove, Ayers, Briscoe  and McKeown soon.
Board Meeting

The Governing Board of the BTA will meet this Monday, October 19 at 3:30 in the Beverly High School LibraryAll members are welcome.  Agenda items requiring board action this meeting include:

  • Sept 21 meeting minutes
  • FY 2016 budget
  • and more.

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 our new website we hope!)

Know Your Contract

Every now and then, we will feature a particular segment of our contracts that you ought to know.  Here is what the Unit A (teachers’) contract says about meeting times:

ARTICLE VIII:  Work Day and Work Year, Section 1G (page 10):

“Members shall not be required to attend more than twenty three hours per year outside the contractual work day to be used at the discretion of the principal and faculty through the collaborative decision making process. In the absence of an agreement, the Association President and the Superintendent will determine the schedule.  There will be a maximum of three evening events per year not to exceed two hours per function.”

We’d be curious to know if you’ve had any experience with “the collaborative decision making process” around meeting times in your building.

Julia’s Schedule

Where to find me this weekI’ll be available for union business (meetings, longer phone calls, etc) during the school day on Wednesday, October 14 and Friday, October 16; Tuesday and Thursday the following week.
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.  Here’s my cell number:  978-879-9649

Message from a “Sister” Union:

Teachers and staff at the North Shore Education Consortium (NSEC), which is right up the street from Beverly High, are in the midst of a struggle for a fair contract and are asking for our support. The NSEC provides a variety of special education services to children from Beverly and many surrounding communities   Members received no raise in 2015 and a .75% the year before that, while the school’s director received a 3.5% raise last year.  The NSEC union is asking that we join them outside of their next negotiations session to show our support: October 26th (Monday)
2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
112 Sohier Rd (on Reservoir Rd)
Beverly, Massachusetts

They will supply signs and stickers.  (Suggested parking is on Reservoir Rd, or at the partially vacant parking at the vacant Ice/Roller Skating Rink on Sohier Rd.   This parking lot is a few hundred yards down the road to the right of 112 Sohier Rd, as you face the building from the front.)

Thanks for reading this third edition of the BTA newsletter!  Stay tuned for the next issue; don’t forget to send us your news and questions, and to forward this email to interested members (PERSONAL emails only, please).