Colleagues,

As we begin the final stretch for this school year, here’s a brief update on some current issues and developments:

– Negotiations. The impasse in bargaining for a successor contract continues. After mediation failed, we filed with the NYS Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) for the next impasse resolution stage available to us: Fact Finding. We already submitted our brief and expect the Fact-Finder’s non-binding report to be issued soon. You should know that, despite an unprecedentedly huge increase in their funding due to full NYS Foundation Aid and the Federal Stimulus money, the District continues to plead poverty, to misrepresent their fiscal condition, and to seek health care concessions from teachers. Since the current RCSD administration took over, there has been no good-faith negotiations on the part of the District. Please feel free to contact John Pavone <pavrta@aol.com>, RTA’s Chief Negotiator, with any related questions.

– Simultaneous Teaching. Despite a growing consensus nationwide that concurrent teaching is an ineffective and discredited practice, the District continues to refuse to rule it out for the next school year. We have filed an Improper Practice suit against the District for failure to bargain with us the impact of simultaneous teaching on the terms and conditions of work for our members. We have also proposed to the Superintendent that each school, through the School-level Living Contract process, negotiate optional alternatives to simultaneous teaching. The District, thus far, has turned a deaf ear to our proposal. The PERB Administrative Law Judge has directed the District and RTA to try to resolve the dispute by the third week of this month.

– Layoffs and Displacements. Thus far, we are aware of only two teacher layoffs for the next school year (one School Instructor/Nursing Program at OACES and one Performing Arts/Theater teacher). And we were just informed that 39 teachers, laid off last year and on the Preferred Eligibility List, were just recalled (27 Elementary; 8 ESOL; 2 Librarians; 1 Health; 1 Math). Unfortunately, 177 teachers – mostly itinerant teachers in Special Education (49), Elementary (22), Art (17), PE (16), Music (15), ESOL (12), Science (11) – have been displaced. This, unfortunately, is an annual scenario in our District that causes stress, confusion and disruption for schools, teachers and students. The remainder of the displaced teachers are Counselors (9), English (6), Social Studies (5), Librarians (4), Math (4), Health (3), Language (2), Theater (1) and Business/Marketing (1). Please contact Martha Keating <maskerade6@aol.com> with any related questions or if you need assistance.

– APPR and Tenure Legislation. The New York State Senate and Assembly passed a bill ensuring that educators are not subject to to the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) this school year and that school districts would not be harmed financially for not conducting APPR. The bill also creates a process for educators appointed between the 2017-18 and this year to be granted tenure. The bill is now awaiting action by the Governor and NYSUT is working with other education stakeholders and with the Governor’s office to expedite action on this bill.

– Time For Getting Vaccinated. New York State’s Paid Sick Leave Law already grants public and private employees paid time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. And now, the New York State Department of Labor is issuing guidance to all employers that any necessary recovery period from the COVID-19 vaccine is also covered by that same law. Please contact Margaret Sergent <mmsergent@rochesterteachers.com> with any related questions or concerns.

– Rochester Teachers Care Videos. As soon as the next school year begins, RTA will resume investing in videotaping and publicizing the Rochester Teachers Care videos showcasing the professionals and dedication of Rochester teachers. These popular brief videos serve as a constant reminder to our community about the everyday heroism of their children’s teachers. They also serve as exemplars of creative and accomplished practice. If you would like to volunteer for a segment or would like to recommend a colleague or a group of colleagues, please contact Aimee Rinere <arinere@rochesterteachers.com> or Matt Lavonas <mlavonas@rochesterteachers.com>.

Finally, as of today, we still have not heard from the District if and when they plan to implement the new and sudden guidelines from NYS relaxing requirements for masks at schools. Our position is that we should not rush to implement this option until students are vaccinated too and until we know that it’s safe <https://13wham.com/news/local/rochester-teachers-union-parents-address-pending-rcsd-budget-extra-aid>. More on this soon, hopefully.

Thank you for all that you continue to do for your profession and for your students.

Adam Urbanski, RTA President