Colleagues,

Here’s a brief update on some current issues:

– Contract Approved. By a 6-0 vote, the Board of Education ratified the one-year extension of our collective bargaining agreement. The pact was approved by teachers last month with 99% voting in favor. All provisions in our contract remain unchanged – including a 3.61% annual increase in salary. As we prepare for negotiations for a multi-year successor agreement, the RTA and the RCSD will continue to address timely issues through the Living Contract process.

– RCSD’s Proposed Budget. Despite facing an initially projected $65 million deficit, the 2018-19 proposed budget budget avoids cuts in services to students and calls for adding more than 130 teaching positions. Among the suggested increases are ESOL teachers, Bi-Lingual teachers, Special Education teachers, Behavioral Specialists, LEAP teachers, Social Workers, and others. The District is in the final stages of balancing next year’s budget and we are grateful for their commitment to cut as far away from the students and classrooms as possible.

– Paid Family Leave. We are continuing our efforts to negotiate with the District the New York State Paid Family Leave benefit. Although we have received an initial negative response, we are determined not to take “no” for an answer. The District’s negotiators argue that the benefit would be too costly and that it would exacerbate the problem of shortage of substitute teachers. We have asked them to provide the data and evidence for their claims. We are determined in our belief that this benefit is needed by all and especially in our profession. We will keep you informed about the progress of our efforts on your behalf.

– Taking Attendance. The RCSD will soon announce changes to the District’s policy for taking student attendance. Meanwhile, please see attached the latest version of the District’s manual for attendance taking. We know that the overwhelming majority of Rochester teachers take attendance diligently and we urge all to familiarize themselves with the District’s policy.

– A Day of Action. April 20th, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre anniversary, has been designated as a day of action to end gun violence, especially in our nation’s schools.RTA’s Social Justice Committee is organizing a letter writing campaign to demand that our elected political leaders take action to end the violence that interring apart our schools and our communities. See this link <https://actionnetwork.org/events/rochester-teacher-association-action-for-safe-schools?source=direct_link> to join us, from 3-5pm, at the RTA.

– United Way. Rochester teachers have always been generous in their support of the United Way. As you receive this year’s solicitation, please remember RTA’s Dial-a-Teacher program (Designated Option #1403). Even though we have ended the phone service, Dial-a-Teacher continues to provide homework tutoring and to support the televised WXXI’s Homework Hotline program. Keep us in mind when you donate to the United Way this year.

– Rochester Teachers Care. This week’s video features Dan Collins, a third generation Manufacturing teacher at Edison High School. Like his father and grandfather before him, he prepares his students for both college and the world of work. We salute him and we know that his dedication to students is reflective of so many other Rochester teachers. If you would like to recommend someone(s) for a future Rochester Teachers Care video, please let Aimee Rinere <arinere@rochesterteachers.com> or Matt Lavonas <mlavonas@rochesterteachers.com> know.

Adam Urbanski, RTA President