Colleagues,

Here’s a brief update on some current issues:

– Planned Layoffs. The school board approved eliminating 198 teacher positions for the next school year in the following tenure areas: 49 Elementary; 28 Reading; 21 Speech and Language; 21 ESOL; 20 Special Education; 15 Social Work; 15 Physical Education; 12 Art; 5 Guidance Counseling; 5 Math. All this in addition to the nearly 100 teaching positions eliminated in the mid-year cuts last January for this school year. The cuts targeted our most vulnerable students and their teachers, schools, programs and services. Some of the projected teacher layoffs may be averted by the projected retirements and resignations. 

– Negotiations. We were on the verge of achieving a tentative agreement for a successor contract last September when the news hit about the District’s budget deficit. Subsequently, the District wanted to meet only to seek concessions. Our position was, and remains, that negotiations should resume where we left off. When the District refused, we declared an impasse in negotiations and requested the involvement of the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). Just yesterday, PERB notified us that they will soon appoint an impartial mediator to help resolve the dispute and to assist in the bargaining. Stay tuned.

– Continued Learning Plan. Here’s a brief clarification of three of the most frequently asked questions about the Continued Learning Plan:

What constitutes a “contact” with a student? A contact could be a telephone call, a Zoom meeting, a Class Dojo, an assignment turned in or other form of outreach to a student. If a teacher cannot get a response from a contact to a student, the teacher should so indicate to your supervisor so that the supervisor could follow through.

Must every teacher make a contact with every student every day? No. Students should be contacted every day but not necessarily by every teacher. Teachers should make contacts to students that are necessary, useful, meaningful and relevant. When appropriate, teachers may choose to alternate and coordinate such contacts so that contacts are not too intrusive or overwhelming to students and families.

What about contacts from Special subject teachers and those with significantly large number of students? For these teachers, teachers should determine what is doable and within reason.These could also be “group outreach” through Zoom or another platform. They could also be activities for an entire week or another period of time.

Have parents been sufficiently alerted and notified about teachers’ contacts to students and families? The District assured us that parents and families have already been notified but the District will notify them again.

Please email Margaret Sergent <msergent@rochesterteachers.com> with other questions or concerns related to the RCSD’s Continued Learning Plan.

– Extended Learning Time. Effective September 8, 2020 Extended Learning Time (ELT) will be eliminated in all RCSD schools except at East High School. The length of the school day will revert to that stipulated in our Collective Bargaining Agreement: 6.5 hours of instruction for students at Elementary Schools and 7 hours of instruction for students at Secondary Schools. The District will soon provide the new bell schedule so that teachers can plan their time for the next school year.

– Teacher Evaluations. The NYS Education Department made no determination yet about any changes to granting of tenure or APPR modifications for the 2019-2020 school year. And we still do not yet know if or how APPR scores will be generated for this school year. Some teachers have been asked by their supervisors to provide input into their evaluation in Domain I ((Planning and Preparation) and Domain IV (Professional Responsibilities). State Education Law 3012-d, however, now states that these elements are “no longer permitted” and therefore administrators cannot require teachers to submit such. Please contact Martha Keating <maskerade6@aol.com> with any questions or if you need assistance.

– School Closures and Relocations. The District asked teachers at schools that are closing to come in and pack their personal belongings and instructional materials. Despite repeated attempts, the District did not reply to our inquiry whether this is a directive or just a request. The District did indicate, however, that any teacher who cannot accommodate the request should so notify the school principal or program administrator and the District will make arrangements instead. Please contact Margaret Sergent if you have questions or need assistance.

– Rochester Teachers Care Video. This week’s video features Anastasia Polashenski, a music teacher at School #23 <https://youtu.be/GzZ9CI0vl4k>. Her creativity, professionalism and dedication are so exemplary and inspirational. It is also reflective of the commitment that Rochester teachers have to their students. While schools remain closed, we are highlighting accomplished “remote” teaching and would love to hear from you about additional examples of it. Please contact Aimee Rinere <arinere@rochesterteachers.com> or Matt Lavonas <mlavonas@rochesterteachers.com> with suggestions and leads.

Stay well.

Adam Urbanski, RTA President