Colleagues,

As we soon conclude yet another week of remote teaching and learning, here are some reminders and also an update on some current issues confronting us and our students:

– RCSD Budget Proposal. Last Tuesday, the Board of Education received a revised budget proposal for the 2020-2021 school year. It would restore some cuts of Social Workers and Special Education teachers while making further reductions at the Rochester International Academy, additional cuts in expenses at Central Office, and allocations of funding for East High School. It also calls for the closing of yet another school (School #57). The revised proposal still disproportionately targets our most vulnerable students, their services and their educators. The school board is resuming the consideration of the budget at their meeting this evening, beginning at 5:30 pm. Teachers, parents and community members are urged to email the school board <BoardOfEducation@rcsdk12.org> to oppose the school closings and to demand that cuts be made as far away from our students as possible.

– Continued Learning Plan. We still addressing questions and concerns related to remote teaching and learning. Concerns that cannot be resolved between your RTA Faculty Representative(s) and the school principal are brought to our attention and we will address these with Deputy Superintendent Lynda Quick and ASAR President Tim Cliby. The first of these weekly three-person panel meetings is tomorrow, May 1. Look for a report and clarification about the most frequent concerns in future updates to all RTA members.

– Superintendent’s Conference Day. Many teachers have asked whether we will still have a Superintendent’s Conference Day this Monday, May 4th. In the absence of Superintendent Terry Dade, we have inquired with Deputy Superintendent Lynda Quick who determined that the Superintendent’s Conference Day is still on, though virtual. More specific information on this “building-driven day” should be provided by your principal or program administrator.

– Rochester Teachers Care. This week’s video features Gavin Jenkins, a Chemistry teacher at East High School, and how he uses the internet to reach his students and to continue their learning <https://youtu.be/5OCfg3gpmQw>. He exemplifies what so many Rochester teachers do to ensure that their students thrive personally and academically even while schools remain closed. If you would like to suggest a colleague, or a group of teachers, that we could highlight in a future video, please email Aimee Rinere <arinere@rochesterteachers.com> or Matt Lavonas <mlavonas@rochesterteachers.com>.

– Employee Assistance Plan. At this difficult time of stress and anxiety, many of us may want to turn to someone for emotional support. That is why we want to remind you that, decades ago, we have negotiated access to intake counseling, financial services and health care advocacy with the Employee Network Incorporated (ENI). It is free and confidential. It is also self-referral only – though you can bring it to a colleague in need. Call (877) 598-8617 to schedule a telemedicine session. Learn more about this negotiated benefit at <www.nexgeneap.com>.

– RTA Scholarships. The application deadline for the Peter Castle, Gordon Dorway, Ken Silvio and the Son or Daughter of an RTA member scholarships have been extended due to the Covid virus quarantine. The applications have been posted on the RTA website. The original deadline of April 24th has been extended until May 11th. for submission of the application. As long as the student application is received before the deadline, all other information (transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, and letters of recommendation and acceptance) will be accepted when access to them is available. Joe Zuniga, Chairperson of RTA’s Scholarship Committee, can be reached at jzuniga@rochesterteachers.com if you have any questions or need to email him the supportive information.

– When Schools Reopen. We should know soon whether our schools will reopen this school year. I’m attaching here today’s article in the local newspaper about this issue <https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2020/04/29/coronavirus-schools-reopen-online-homeschool/3031945001/> as well as information about a new report on safe reopening of schools just issued by our national union, the American Federation of Teachers (see below). More information on this will be communicated to you as soon as it becomes available. You can be sure, though, that we will continue to insist that RCSD schools reopen only after we know that all necessary precautions are in place and your safety, and that of your students, can be assured.

Thank you for all that you continue to do for all your students every day. We will continue to keep you informed. Stay safe and stay strong.

Adam Urbanski

RTA President

AFT Releases Guidelines to Reopen Schools