Colleagues,

Yes, this Monday, Memorial Day, is a day off from work for you and your students. It’s a national holiday and we’re commemorating all those who made sacrifices for our freedom and our democracy. It’s also appropriate that, on that day, we honor all the heroes in the war against the COVID-19 pandemic who have put themselves at risk, and continue to do so, to keep the rest of us safe.

As you’ve already learned, we now have a new superintendent, Dr. Lesli Meyers-Small, who began her tenure earlier this week. We welcome her back to our District and look forward to working with her on behalf of all our students. We expect to meet with the new superintendent in the near future to address unresolved issues and to develop a schedule for regular communication. Meanwhile here’s a brief update on some current and ongoing matters:

– Negotiations. Stalled bargaining for a successor contract resumed with the help of a mediator appointed by the NYS Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). We had one “meeting” with the mediator already and the next one is scheduled for June 1. It is our hope that the new superintendent will be instrumental in getting this important unfinished business finally resolved. 

– Staffing and Transfers. The exact date for this year’s Transfer and Staffing Day has not yet been determined by the District but we expect it to occur sometime in June. Receivership schools and exempt schools, however, are expected to offer positions next week. Once teachers accept positions at any of these schools, their names will be removed from the list of teachers eligible to participate in the rest of the transfer and placement process and they would not be eligible to “attend” on the Transfer and Placement Day. See Section 24 of our contract, also posted on the RTA website <www.rochesterteachers.com> for a detailed description of the transfer stages and process. 

– Exempt Schools. As a reminder, here are the mutually agreed to schools and programs that are exempt from the “normal” transfer process: All City High School; RISE School; East High School EPO; School #25 STEP Program’s Special Education and General Education classroom positions; School 29 GEM Program’s Special Education positions only; Wilson Foundation and Wilson Commencement’s International Baccalaureate (IB) positions only; School of the Arts’ music program positions only; Rochester International Academy’s ESOL positions only; NYSAA Program at all locations; and Autism Spectrum classes district-wide.

– Cleaning Out Student Lockers and Desks? That’s apparently what some principals and administrators are asking teachers to do. It is an inappropriate request and out-of-unit work for teachers. It also could involve risks and liability issues that should not be imposed on teachers. Please report any such requests to your RTA Faculty Representative(s) who will try to resolve the matter with the school principal. If that doesn’t succeed, your RTA Faculty Representative will notify us and we will address it with Central Office.

– RCSD’s Fiscal Woes Featured. Last week’s edition of the national Education Week featured a story about the Rochester City School District and its current dire predicament <https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/05/09/devastated-budgets-and-widening-inequities-how-the.htm>. Entitled “Devastated Budgets and Widening Inequalities”, the piece describes the devastating budget cuts that targeted our most vulnerable students, their services and their educators. It also describes how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the fiscal condition of school districts nationwide.

– PD Opportunity. As part of its 20th Institute on Teaching and Learning Informed by Cultural Knowledge, the Rochester Teacher Center is offering a session (Wednesday, May 27th, from 4 ’til 6 pm) that features Dr. Walter Farrell from the National Education Policy Institute in Chapel Hill. The Zoom presentation and discussion will focus on these perilous times that endanger public schools in Rochester and in urban districts throughout our country. Participating Rochester teachers will receive 2 PD credits. Registration is through TrueNorth Logic. More details in the flyer below.

– Rochester Teachers Care. This week’s video <https://youtu.be/tC1kP7HZR1g> features Michael Weisenreder, School #58, and how he literally delivers lessons to his students. He exemplifies what Rochester teachers continue to donor all our students during this extended remote learning period. 

We realize that there are other issues that need to be clarified, such as teacher evaluations, the last day of school for the current school year and the terms and conditions for reopening our schools for the 2020-2021 school year. We are awaiting guidance on these matters from the state government and the NYS Education Department. As soon as we receive this we will address the issues with the District and we will communicate the information to you.

Have a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend.

Adam Urbanski, RTA President

20th Institute on Teaching and Learning Informed by Cultural Knowledge Flyer