We hope you are having an enjoyable summer. We have a few things to get caught up on…
The school department has decided to use to its fullest advantage the powers it gained under the state’s Ed Reform law, and it intends to ask all teachers and paraprofessionals in five additional schools to reapply for their positions as soon as it gets the go-ahead from State DESE Commr. Mitchell Chester. Those schools are the Agassiz Elem., Dearborn MS, E Greenwood Elem., Holland Elem., and English High School . The application process is about to begin. Administrators at these five schools will presumably reject the applications of an unknown number of staff. This process will take place in the next few weeks once the school department has its ‘turnaround plan’ approved by Chester, who has had the plan since June 29. Staff not selected will be in effect ‘excessed’ and guaranteed positions elsewhere. A similar process took place in the spring with seven other ‘turnaround’ schools.
The BTU Field representatives will have a letter out to all affected shortly. Any questions on this issue ought to be directed to either Caren , Michael , or Jenna .
The school department believes it has the authority to do the above under the new state law. If we can challenge it, we will. If so, we will communicate directly with those involved. All of this said, the School Department may or may not have the authority to do the above, but it is not obligated to do so. The law, regardless of interpretation, does not compel the department to take this misguided action. Forcing all staff to reapply for their positions and excessing certain people in August are disruptive and counter-productive activities (harebrained might be a more apt description). We are exploring any options we have and we will be in touch.
Last week, the Boston School Committee voted to establish three in-district Horace Mann Charters . One of the charters chosen was given to an outside not-for-profit company, called Unlocking Potential .
It appears that Unlocking Potential (UP) was given a no-bid contract. The school committee approved the bid quickly and unanimously, with little discussion, at its July 21st meeting. The school committee’s endorsement is preliminary and up for final approval in the fall. Two other schools were also given charters, Boston Green High School, which has a connection to Fenway Pilot HS, and Timilty-Roxbury Community College High School, which has a connection (somewhat nebulous) to the Timilty Middle School.
The superintendent announced the department will close one middle school and re-open it as the Unlocking Potential Horace Mann Charter School. The superintendent has not announced what middle school she will offer up for closing. The choices are slim. There are only 12 middle schools. But if you exempt from closing the non-traditional middle schools (pilot, the extended learning time, the Turnaround, Alternative Ed), there are only four left standing–the Gavin , the Irving , the McCormack and the Rogers . A good case can be made–and will be made–to keep each of those schools open as is, so it is anyone’s guess which middle school will be subject to takeover.
UP and its principles have no connection to the BPS. UP is an outside company seeking to establish a toe-hold in the public arena by running a network of 20 charter schools. Two of its principle officers come from EXCEL Charter School in East Boston, which is a state-sanctioned charter school. One also has a connection to the KIPP nat’l chain of for-profit-but-not-for-profit charter schools. The question of student demographics at EXCEL came up at the school committee meeting, but there was little discussion. For the record, on a variety of student indicators (language, poverty,) the student demographics, BPS and Excel , are reasonably close. But on a key demographic of detailing the incidence of SPED population served, Excel’s falls far short of the BPS’s, at one half the rate. Here’s what UP promises:
- Relentlessly high, consistent academic and behavioral expectations;
- Seamless and detailed operating procedures;
- Rigorous, standards-based curriculum, instruction, and assessments;
- A wide-reaching network of supports designed such that no child is left behind;
- An obsession with regularly and effectively using data; and
- An atmosphere of enthusiasm and joy.
Promises aside, we question the lack of due diligence in the school committee’s review of the apparent no-bid process in choosing UP. It was clear from the school committee meeting last week that none of the decision makers knew much about UP, except what the acronym stood for. We also question how it is–in a system of 10,000 professional employees–that the school department must look outside the system, to charter school entrepreneurs, to run one of its own schools. Does this show confidence in our own system?
By the way, UP is looking to hire a Director of Operations. The first requirement for the job: an MBA. The fourth requirement: urban education experience.
A few other notes:
The measure before the Boston City Council to ask BTU members to work without pay for one day to pay for 40 custodial positions died without coming to the floor of the council. Both the BTU and the Custodians Association felt it was improper and a reach for the council to get involved. That said, we support the restoration of the custodians’ positions, and we will continue to work with the Association to restore those positions. In the fall, we will work work closely with the custodians to monitor the conditions of our buildings.
The school department has scheduled an orientation for new teachers for three days, August 24 through 26. The BTU and its members staff a table at this event, offering greetings and information to new teachers. We will staff the event from 8 to 2 each day, in two hour shifts. If you are interested in volunteering, please email and let us know your availability and contact information. Thank you. This is an important event at which we welcome our new members. The event is at U Mass.
The first day of school is Tuesday, September 7. The administration gets three hours, as does the BTU. The BTU’s time is divided up as follows: 30 minutes for BTU orientation, during which time B Reps. will give a brief introduction, using our opening day newspaper, as to what the BTU does, how to access your benefits, and so on. The remaining 2 1/2 hours are set aside by BTU contract to give you time to set up your classroom. You also get ‘credit’ towards your work year for an additional three hours spent on your own time, from
8/6/10 through 9/10/10. In other words, any time you spend preparing your classroom on non-school time during that time period will count towards the three hours required. With all of these changes, the school year (total hours) remains the same, and this is for this year only.
Lastly, the 26th and final teacher paycheck for the 2009-2010 school year is on 8/20. that paycheck completes the full salary due, which is found here . The first paycheck for SY 2010-2011 will be on September 17, 2010. 25 additional paychecks will follow, to complete the 2010-2011 cycle.
Next year’s Teacher and Para salary will remain as each was on June 30. If you are newly entitled to a career award, teacher or para, you will get one. Please see here and scroll down to career award. We suggest that you pay strict attention to the timing of career awards, which are due after incremental and accumulated steps of service. Any questions on this, please call the BTU office. The school department offers general salary information as well.
The BTU office is open all summer except legal holidays, from 8-5.
E-Bulletins will continue in the summertime, albeit on a reduced frequency. Please make sure we have your home email address