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MHFT Newsletter -- October 28, 2015

Taste of Morgan Hill Thank You!

Huge thanks again to the 24 teachers who came out! It was wonderful to have teachers pass out mascot coloring sheets, crayons, and candy. While simple, this work is extremely important.

Tickets to the San Jose Barracudas Union Night on October 9th were given as a thank you to those who worked in our booth. While the Barracudas did not prevail, it was a fun first game for MHFT and the Barracudas (who just moved to the West Coast).

“Teachers Deserve Better Treatment, Not Denigration,” CFT President Josh Pechthalt

Click below to read Josh’s opinion piece in the Orange County Register: articles/education-685862- teachers-public.html
Then click here to watch the Key & Peele “Teaching Center” comedy video: v=dkHqPFbxmOU

South Bay Labor Council

MHFT is affiliated not only with CFT and AFT, but also with the California Federation of Labor, and the AFL/CIO. It is through this larger union umbrella that we participate in the South Bay Labor Council (SBLC). We currently have two delegates to SBLC, Lori Shoemaker and Joanne Markowska.
SBLC has supported us through the charter battles, and has helped us to campaign for education-friendly school board candidates as well as candidates to statewide and national office. It is important that we have a presence on this council, both to carry the interests of our students and teachers to a broader audience, and to show solidarity with the larger labor community.

Our work with South Bay Labor council has helped to protect public education, but also to promote better wages and working conditions for all workers, and healthier communities for families. When we work together, we all prosper.

Make it Fair

And here is a fine example of how the entire labor movement is joining in the effort to improve & equalize funding for California’s public schools: makeitfair/

Santa Clara County Office of Education Charter Schools Update

At its October 8th meeting, the County Board of Education finally started to ask questions and show a little more concern regarding the charter schools it has approved throughout its jurisdiction.

It seems the majority of the Board is ready to move forward with revoking the charter for Spark Academy - Sunnyvale, where an investigation in the wake of a child molestation arrest turned up no evidence of mandatory background checks of school staff.

This incident has spurred the board to look at greater oversight over all countywide charter schools.

The Board is looking into enrollment at the Voices charter, which recently began operating within our own district boundaries. Their charter was contingent upon initial sign-ups of 112 students last spring. At the time, they turned in 113 sign-ups, but their enrollment is now 88. Flex Academy, another Morgan Hill charter (but, like Voices, authorized by the County Board) is down about 100 students. Their charter was originally scheduled for renewal at the County Board meeting this Tuesday, but it appears that it did not make the agenda.

Some of these schools have been the subject of controversy in the past year, and some had disappointing test results when the state rolled out its new testing system. We are pleased that their enrollments are going down and that the Santa Clara County School Board is beginning to have questions and provide oversight.

The Santa Clara County School Board will hold a special session on charter schools on December  14 to discuss charter approval, renewal, and oversight.

Aeries Update for Elementary Teachers

Elementary teachers will need to use Catapult for their report cards this year.  Currently, Aeries gradebook does not upload into an Aeries report card. We will need elementary teachers to be part of an Aeries user group, to help the district make revisions that will enable grades and report cards to work for elementary grades.  More information to come as it develops. 

6th Grade/Middle School Reconfiguration Teacher Interest Survey

Human Resources recently sent out an interest survey for Middle School Grade Configuration.  They are trying to determine which teachers might be interested in moving with the 6th grade students to the middle schools, or with 7th graders to SMG.

If you have not already done so, please complete and submit this survey, even if it is just to say that you are not interested. It is important for the District to be able to determine that ALL TEACHERS have responded–not just those currently teaching 6th grade–so they can estimate, for example, how many hires they might need to make at each level.

If you indicate that you might be interested in transferring, you are neither committed to the move nor guaranteed a spot in the new middle school program. However, once interested teachers are identified, they will be invited to attend upcoming planning meetings, the first of which was this last Wednesday, October 28, 3:30 – 5:30 pm at the District Office. Teachers participating in these meetings will be able to meet our two Middle School principals and some of their staff, and continue to provide input and direction for the sixth grade courses and any support services to be provided.

Report from AFT’s Civil, Human, and Women’s Rights Conference

Activists from different human rights movements came together to combine and strengthen the struggle for racial justice at the Oct. 2-4 conference, held in New Orleans. Knitting together educational justice, criminal justice, economic justice and immigration reform, participants and presenters worked towards a common action. Lori Shoemaker, Janet Lammers, and Joanne Markowska represented our local at this conference.

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, much of the city remains in shambles, and the public school system is no exception. After the hurricane, many public school teachers left, and charter schools moved in. Ninety percent of the schools are charter now.

Nearly 4000 public schools have closed since 2008 nationwide. We should all be aware of the assault on public education.  At the same time, we should consider what practices we can use in our classrooms to support students in need.

For more, visit: activists-unite-racial- justice-aft-conference#sthash. DCLkyV5J.dpuf

Teachers at the Mic:

Thank you to Sobrato and Britton for their great presentations!
Our theme this year is Building Strong Learning Environments. If you would like to participate in your site’s presentation, please contact your Building Rep. Otherwise, please plan to attend and support your colleagues.

Next up:

Murphy November 3
Barrett November 17

Contract Spotlight:

13.6 Personal Necessity Leave

13.6.1 Each unit member may use sick leave for purposes of personal necessity. Use of sick leave for the purpose of personal necessity shall not exceed seven (7) days in any school year and shall be limited to the following situations:

a) Serious illness or incapacity of a member of the immediate family, as defined under "Bereavement Leave."
b) Serious accident involving the person or property of the unit member or a member of his/her immediate family as defined under "Bereavement Leave."
c) After bereavement leave has been used, the unit member may use up to three (3) days of personal necessity leave for bereavement purposes as defined in Article 13.5.
d) A unit member may use one (1) day of personal necessity leave for attendance at a funeral service not covered by bereavement leave provisions.
e) Personal necessity leave may be granted for other justifiable reasons.

13.6.2 The unit member shall inform the principal of the need to be absent as soon as practicable.

13.6.3 Personal necessity leave shall be subject to final approval and verification by the District upon the unit member's return to work.
This language is mostly derived from State Ed Code, which restricts the use of personal necessity leave to seven days per school year, and lays out the reasons identified above.

Please be aware that while it is expected that teachers will notify their principals as soon as possible (and will make every effort to secure a substitute for the absence), approval for Personal Necessity Leave is actually granted by the District.
Human Resources is currently reviewing all Personal Necessity Leave Requests and approving or not approving for payment.  Please submit your paperwork to HR two or three weeks in advance, if you are able to plan in advance.  Follow up to ensure they have received the paperwork and request that they let you know their decision as soon as possible.

Please also be aware that any unpaid days in the school year can affect your STRS retirement.  STRS has stated that the maximum amount of service credit that a member can accrue during any fiscal year is 1.00. Full and part-time service is calculated by dividing actual earnings in a school year by the member’s full time pay rate. CalSTRS provides service credit only for work for which you receive payment and for which you have paid contributions. If there is a reduction in your earnings due to unpaid leave, there will be a reduction in the amount of service credit that you accrue during that fiscal year.

The Federation is working to minimize these surprises for teachers. If you find yourself negatively impacted by denial of a Personal Necessity Leave, please contact us as soon as possible. It will be helpful for us to know how many teachers are affected, and their circumstances.

Two notes of clarification:

(1) If you are absent due to a medical or dental appointment, that should be coded as sick leave, not personal necessity leave.
(2) Brief absences to care for a sick child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner, or to take him/her to a medical or dental appointment, should be coded as sick leave.