Colleagues,

By Executive Order of the Governor, as you probably already know, schools in New York State remain closed until at least until May 15th. Remote teaching and learning, however, continues. And here’s a brief update to keep you informed and engaged:

– More Teacher Layoffs Proposed. In round three of budget reductions, the District proposed eliminating yet another 88.5 teacher positions for next year. That includes an additional 45 Elementary, 16 Special Education, 5 Physical Education, 4 Music, 4 ESOL, 4 Speech and Hearing, 3 Art, 3 Reading, 3 Intervention/Prevention, 2 Social Work and 1 Librarian. If you fall into any of these categories and want to know your seniority ranking within your tenure area, please email RTA’s Martha Keating <maskerade6@aol.com>. If you know your employee number, please be sure to include it. The latest proposal continues the pattern of disproportionately targeting teachers as well as programs and services for our most vulnerable students including, but not limited to, Special Education, English Language Learners, Young Mothers Program, Bilingual Academy, Rochester International Academy.

– More School Closings. The District is also proposing for next year that the Nathaniel Rochester Community School be restructured to become a Middle School (grades 7 and 8 only) and that School #20 and School #43 be closed altogether. These two schools are among the schools that have disproportionate numbers of Special Education students, Thus, the pattern of targeting the most vulnerable students continues. Closing schools and laying off teachers should be the last thing they do and not their first choice. These crippling strategies can only lead to the dismantling of public education in our city.

– A Call to Action. In partnership with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the Rochester Association of Paraprofessionals (RAP) and the Rochester Community Coalition to Save Our Schools (ROC-SOS), we are intensifying our fight to spare our students and their educators. The Community Coalition’s strategies already planned include a car caravan protest in front of Central Office this Thursday, a letter-writing campaign to local officials, a social media postcard campaign, lobbying State and Federal officials, a wear and post red for ed campaign, supporting our community through fellowship and solidarity and other actions. Details on each of these forthcoming soon. We urge all RTA members to support, participate and become actively involved. You can also check the RTA’s website <www.rochesterteachers.com> or the Rochester Community Coalition to Save Our Schools website <www.rocsos.org> for the latest details.

– Continued Learning Plan. Last week you received from the District yet another clarification about aspects of the Continued Learning Plan. In order to maintain eligibility for State aid, The District may need to document for the State that continued teacher and learning is indeed occurring for RCSD students while schools remain closed. But reasonable documentation is not evaluation. Additionally, nothing required from teachers during this entire period of remote teaching can either exceed or be in conflict with provisions in our contract. Any questions or concerns related to continued learning should be brought to the attention of your RTA Faculty Representatives(s) who will try to resolve. If they cannot, they will bring it to the attention of either of the RTA Vice Presidents, John Pavone <pavrta@aol.com> or Margaret Sergent <msergent@rochesterteachers.com>. Still unresolved concerns will be addressed by the newly-established panel that includes me, ASAR President Tim Cliby and Superintendent Dade.

– Limited Access to Your School. Starting today, and continuing until this Thursday, teachers can choose to access their school to retrieve personal items and teaching materials.No more than 10 teachers can be in the building at any one time for a period not exceeding 30 minutes. Teachers must wear a mask and gloves. Additional protocols were already communicated to principals. Remember, this is purely voluntary and no-one has to do it.

– Rochester Teachers Care. This week’s Rochester Teachers Care video <https://youtu.be/fhqdV3xwFI4> highlights the exemplary remote teaching of Alicia Castellon, a teacher at the Rochester International Academy (RIA). Her creativity, passion for teaching and commitment to students is admirable and so reflective of her fellow Rochester teachers. Kudos to Ms. Castellon, and to you, for being the unsung everyday heroes, for your professionalism and for your love for your students.

Stay healthy and safe. Take good care of yourselves and each other.

Adam Urbanski,

RTA President