Colleagues,

Yesterday you received a copy of the RTA Representative Assembly resolution condemning the District’s disastrous strategy for mid-year cuts and calling for the restoration of teacher layoffs and needed services for our students. Here’s a brief update on some other current and related issues.

– Rochester Teachers Care Video. This week’s video <https://youtu.be/4QweJFSiEHk> features Amy Zhan from Children’s School of Rochester. It represents an excellent example of how teachers helped their students to cope with the disruptions to their education caused by the irresponsible mid-year teacher layoffs and displacements. Thank you to all Rochester teachers for putting students first each and every day.

– Funding Our Future. Teachers, parents, students and community groups descended on Albany last week to advocate for additional State funding for our schools. RTA participated in this effort organized by our state-level union, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT). After meeting with legislators and New York State Education Department leaders, we are hopeful that additional and needed funding will be part of the next State budget. And now NYSUT has launched a seven-week “Fund Our Future” statewide bus tour to draw attention to the need for new revenues and to tackle inequality in funding education in our state. The “Fund Our Future” bus, with NYSUT President Andy Pallota and other leaders, will be in Rochester on February 6.

– Negotiations. As you know, our contract expired on June 30, 2019 and we have been bargaining for a successor contract for nearly a year. Negotiations were interrupted last September when the District revealed their fiscal deficit. We have called on the District to resume negotiations and they have agreed to do so. Since then we’ve had only one bargaining session and expect to have further negotiations next week and thereafter. We will continue to keep you informed about any progress in these protracted talks.

– DASA Workshop. NYSUT Rochester Regional Office is offering, free of charge, a 6-hour workshop on the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) – needed by teachers for their certification. The session will be held at the NYSUT Regional Office, 30 N. Union Street, first-floor conference center, from 9 am until 4 pm. Pizza lunch provided. Here’s the link to register: <https://www.mylearningplan.com/WebReg/ActivityProfile.asp?D=15191&I=3363687>. 

– Pre-Retirement Workshop. Open to all RTA members regardless of years of service, this session with New York State Retirement System Trustee Sheila Buck will include topics such as retirement security, economic impact, pre-retirement planning, steps to take in filing, calculating your benefit and explanation of options. The session will begin at 4:15 pm on Tuesday, February 11, and will be held at the NYSUT Conference Center (30 N. Union Street, first floor). To register, please email the RTA Office Manager Bernadette Ferrara <ferrta@aol.com> or call her at (585) 546-2681.

– Puerto Rico Disaster Relief. Still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has endured a series of devastating earthquakes over the past several weeks. There’s a dire need to help the people of Puerto Rico. While RTA has made a donation on behalf of all our members, additional individual donations can be made online <https://www.nysut.org/resources/special-resources-sites/disaster-relief/make-a-donation > or by check. Make your check payable to “NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund” and mail to NYSUT Headquarters, Attn. Disaster Relief, 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110. Please note “Puerto Rico” in the memo line. Thank you, in advance, for your compassion and generosity.

Thank you for all that you do to keep us united and strong during these difficult times for us, for our schools and for our students. Your RTA Faculty Representatives received enough RTA Solidarity buttons for each and every member. Let’s display them proudly to send an unmistakable message that teachers will continue to advocate for public education and for our students.

Adam Urbanski, RTA President