The BTU Building Rep, the School Site Council (SSC) , the Faculty Senate, the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT), along with the principal/headmaster, make up the school governance community in every school. Their actions and decisions affect the quality of the teaching and learning that goes on in our buildings every day and the degree of personal and professional satisfaction we derive from our jobs.
The role of the Building Representative is comparable to that of the union steward in other unions. As the name implies, Building Reps usually work right in your building. Each school or group is allowed one representative for every 25 Union members. They receive training and support so that they can answer members’ questions on a range of issues relating to your rights, benefits and working conditions under the union contract, as well as providing news and updates on union activities. If your Build Rep can’t answer your questions, they should be able to direct you to someone who can.
Here are some of the specific roles the Building Representative fills:
- Distributing membership application forms to all BTU bargaining unit persons, (teachers, paras, nurses, substitutes, ETFs, therapists, etc.) in the building or work site who are new to BPS employment, or returned from a leave of absence, or who have not been receiving Union mail, e.g. annual membership card mailed at the end of August.
- Monitoring class sizes for all regular education, special education, and bilingual education classrooms. Violations, i.e., exceeding contractual or statutory maxima, and reporting violations to the BTU office promptly.
- Accompanying a member to a conference with an administrator upon the member’s request.
- Processing Step I grievances if contractual disputes with the principal/headmasters cannot be resolved amicably.
- Attending monthly Union membership meetings and special Building Representative meetings and sharing of information with staff. Many Building Reps xerox their notes and disseminate information in that manner. They are also responsible for posting of bi-weekly Fact Sheets they receive in a prominent location.
- Encouraging and organizing fellow staff members to attend monthly membership meetings and other important union activities including rallies, educational and social events.
- Organizing elections for the Faculty Senate and School Site Council.
If you are a Building Rep, get some tips on how to increase your effectiveness.
The School Site Council is the central governing body of the school under the school-based management/shared decision making model. Our contract explains: “ The purpose of shared decision making is to create a climate in the schools where the faculty, parents, administrators working together share the responsibility and accountability for school improvement, better student performance, increased satisfaction among professional educators, greater involvement by and with parents, and stronger support from the community.”
Parents, teachers and the principal/headmaster make up the School Site Council; at the high school level, students are included as well. The SSC reviews and approves the Whole School Improvement Plan including the All Funds Budget and reviews and approves all significant changes to school policies. It also conducts the principal evaluation and has responsibility for hiring new teachers through its Personnel Subcommittee.
School Site Council members are elected in October in elections organized by the Building Rep. The mandate of the Union’s elected SSC members is to represent their constituency — the staff at the school — not their own personal views. Attendance at Faculty Senate meetings, as well as cluster/academy/unit/pod or SLC meetings, is the best way for this to happen. Anyone from the school community may attend SSC meetings which are held monthly and whose dates must be posted at the beginning of the school year; but only those who are elected SSC members may cast a vote.
By active participation of the membership in the Faculty Senate and the School Site Council, the BTU can be part of the solution to school improvement efforts. The Union has provided a means for individual schools to have more autonomy as it relates to our contract — if the procedure is followed properly. Many reforms that are part of the argument for pilot or charter or “Turnaround” schools can, in fact, be accomplished right now under the SSC waiver process. By seriously considering, discussing and negotiating proposals for changes to standard educational and operational school policies that come before the Council, we can become part of the active solution of these concerns.
Please refer to the BTU Collective Bargaining Agreement, “The Contract” 2010-2016, pages 9-16, for specific information pertaining to School Site Councils. For more information contact Caren Carew. See a list of all 2015-16 School Site Council trainings.
The Faculty Senate is elected by the staff at each school and represents them in matters concerning educational policy and school operations to the Principal or Headmaster. The Faculty Senate is an advisory body to the administration. There is a separate Special Education Faculty Senate.
The Faculty Senate also cooperates with the Union building representative in all contract matters and the enforcement of Union policy. Finally, in cooperation with the administration, the Faculty Senate plans and runs in-service meetings in accordance with the contract.
Participating in the Faculty Senate is an important responsibility of our members. The Faculty Senate is a safe environment for faculty members to express their ideas, opinions and concerns about educational policy and school operations. Elections, organized by the BTU Building Rep are held the first week of October and we encourage you to run and to attend meetings regularly.
Every school has an Instructional Leadership Team which is a representative body of the professional staff and includes administrators and teachers from the various grade levels, disciplines, and programs of the school. It is an advisory body to the principal/headmaster on issues related to teaching, learning, assessment and professional development.
The principal/ headmaster is required to give a report each month to the School Site Council on the activities of the Instructional Leadership Team and any recommendations of the ILT that are supported by the principal/headmaster and would have a major effect on the school community must be approved by the School Site Council before they are implemented.
The ILT in each school is required under our contract to hold a meeting with the faculty each April to solicit ideas for the content of professional development in the following school year. Dissatisfaction with the quality and effectiveness of Professional Development days has been an ongoing issue for our members.