A TALE OF 3 CALENDARS

A Tale of 3 Calendars

During the 2019 legislative session, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill funding an extended school year. This was done in late Spring after school budgets were due and there was little time to implement the initiative at the district level.

State funding for the Extended Learning Time Program (ELTP) still exists and the state is encouraging districts to use it. APS has submitted a grant proposal listing all elementary and middle schools as possible participants in an extended school year.  It is important to note that the grant proposal has been submitted, but not yet approved. At this time, we do not know if APS will receive these funds or how schools will be chosen to participate.

In anticipation of receiving funding for the extended school year, the APS calendar committee developed 3 calendars:

-       The traditional calendar (184 duty days)

  • The first day of school for high schools would be on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.
  • The last day of school for high schools would be Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

-       A frontloaded calendar with 10 days added to the beginning of the traditional calendar year

  • The first day of school would be Wednesday, July 29, 2020.
  • The last day of school would be on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

-     A 5/5 calendar with five days added to the beginning and five days added at the end of the traditional calendar

  • The first day of school would be Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020.
  • The last day of school would be Wednesday, June 2, 2021.

All breaks and holidays are the same for all proposed calendars, including fall, winter, and spring break.

We asked for members’ input on these calendar proposals and APS posted a Facebook survey to allow the community to weigh in. The feedback was clear: if we must participate in ELTP, we prefer the 5/5 calendar.

Most respondents had questions and comments. A common comment was, “Show me the research that suggests adding instructional time will help my students.” Other comments focused on whether or not the district would provide reasonable teaching conditions during the hottest part of the year, “How will I be able to teach in July without a functioning cooler?” We took your input to the calendar committee and we are awaiting new information.

Your union will continue to add our collective concerns to the debate.

 

Calendar Proposal 1 Year At-A-Glance (ELTP-10 days up front)
Date Description
July 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 2020 Student registration, professional development days, and preparation days
July 29, 2020 First Day of School
Sept. 7 Labor Day 
Oct. 8-9 Fall Break 
Nov. 3 Election Day 
Nov. 11 Veterans Day
Nov. 23-24 Elementary & Middle School Conferences
Nov. 25-27 Thanksgiving Break
Dec. 21-Jan. 1, 2021 Winter Break
Jan. 4, 2021 Professional Development Day (staff only)
Jan. 5, 2021 First Day of the Second Semester
Jan. 18 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Feb. 15 President's Day
March 18-19 Elementary, Middle & High School Conferences 
March 22-26 Spring Break
April 2 Vernal Holiday
May 22, 2020 Last Day of School
May 31 Memorial Day
May 26-28 and June 1 Weather Make-Up Days
 

 

 

Calendar Proposal 2 Year At-A-Glance (ELTP 5 days before and 5 days after)
Date Description
July 29, 30, 31 and Aug. 3, 4, 2021 Student registration, professional development days, and preparation days
Aug. 5, 2021 First Day of School
Sept. 7 Labor Day 
Oct. 8-9 Fall Break 
Nov. 3 Election Day 
Nov. 11 Veterans Day
Nov. 23-24 Elementary & Middle School Conferences
Nov. 25-27 Thanksgiving Break
Dec. 21-Jan. 1, 2021 Winter Break
Jan. 4, 2021 Professional Development  (staff only)
Jan. 5, 2021 First Day of the Second Semester
Jan. 18 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Feb. 15 President's Day
March 18-19 Elementary, Middle & High School Conferences 
March 22-26 Spring Break
April 2 Vernal Holiday
May 31 Memorial Day
June 2, 2021 Last Day of School
June 3, 4, 5 and 7 Weather Make-Up Days

 

 

 

 


ATF COPE Celebrates Election Victories!

Thank you to all members who volunteered for phone banking and canvassing during the Board of Education and Bond/Mill Levy elections! Thank you to all our members who contribute to our Committee On Political Education (COPE). Initial polling results show that your hard work and contributions paid off.

Candidates endorsed by COPE, all of whom are pro-workers’ rights, pro-student, and pro-educator, fared well. In the District 1 School Board race, Yolanda Montoya-Cordova won re-election, garnering almost 72% of the votes cast. “Yolanda has shown herself to be a solid advocate for educators and students across APS, as well as a champion for her constituents,”  said ATF President Ellen Bernstein. "We congratulate her on this victory and we look forward to her advocacy for our public schools over the next four years."

Barbara Petersen, current Board member from District 4 and member of AFT-NM Retirees, retained her seat on the Board, winning handily with over 66% of the vote in a three-way race. "Barbara Petersen’s time on the School Board has established her as a true champion of public education and a defender of students’ and educators’ rights,” said ATF President Ellen Bernstein. “We are fortunate to have her as an advocate for our public schools. Her re-election is great news for APS. Barbara embodies the spirit of collaboration that our union seeks to continue with the district. When APS and ATF work together, we can provide the highest quality programs and policies for our students."

Recently-retired teacher and AFT-NM Retirees union member, Laurie Harris, won ATF’s endorsement in District 2 and ran a very high-energy campaign. Despite the tireless volunteerism of our members, she was unable to unseat incumbent Peggy Muller-Aragon. "We want to thank Laurie for representing educators and for her dedication throughout the campaign," said COPE Chair Sara Attleson. "We hope that she will be willing to throw her hat in the ring again in four years so that we can have a District 2 Board member who truly represents our members' and our students' best interests."

We are very pleased to announce that both of the Bond/Mill Levy Questions passed by wide margins. Our school district can now release funds to fix and improve our aging school buildings. Question 1, the Mill Levy, won approval from the electorate with over 63% voting "FOR" the measure. Question 2, the General Obligation Bond, fared even better with more than 68% of voters casting ballots "FOR" the measure.

ATF COPE hosted a well-attended Election Watch Party Tuesday night at O'Niell's on Central. The celebration was attended by candidates, Board members, the mayor, and the State House Majority Leader along with dozens of rank-and-file members and union leadership. We'd like to thank O'Niell's for hosting the gathering.

These electoral achievements show the power of our union's voice and what we can do when our members volunteer and choose to be masters of our own destinies in the political realm. These victories are only the beginning. We must begin to focus on the 2020 Legislative races so that we continue to build a Legislature that supports our public schools and workers' rights.

Our jobs as educators are undeniably political. Our Committee On Political Education is our vehicle for broadcasting teachers' voices on political matters. COPE utilizes members' voluntary contributions to support our phone banking and canvassing endeavors. We contact members and educate them on the issues and our endorsed candidates. We also focus on getting members and retired members elected.

Your small donation to COPE multiplied by similar contributions from our thousands of members really adds up. You can begin to help our efforts in 2020 now by joining ATF COPE or increasing your voluntary contribution here. Our regular COPE meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays each month at the ATF Office. If you'd like to get more involved, email dwayne@atfunion.org.

Join us. Get involved! When we work together, we win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


VOTE “FOR” OUR SCHOOLS

Collapsing roofs, outdated technology, students ready to learn a trade without the tools to do so, music classes with fewer instruments than students, antiquated security measures, children suffering the sweltering August heat without air conditioning: these are but a few of the woes that plague our educators and students across the APS District. They all share the same remedy: voting “FOR” the two Bond/Mill Levy questions. These are the types of urgent, basic repairs that our public schools can accomplish with help of Bernalillo County and Corrales voters.

You don’t have to be a genius to answer the Bond/Mill Levy questions correctly. You don’t even need to study for the quiz. It’s simple. Question 1 asks voters to continue the current Public Schools Capital Improvements Mill Levy of $2 tax for every $1,000 of taxable value on property. Question 2 asks voters if it’s okay to release money that has already been collected: Releasing these funds will mean NO Tax Increase!

 To be clear: Question 1 asks us to continue with the current mill levy built into our existing property taxes. Question 2 releases money that’s already been collected so we can use it.

Vote “For” Our Schools.Teachers need access to printed and copied materials to carry out their lesson plans and $1.5 million from the Bond/Mill Levy monies will be devoted to these needs. $28 million of these monies will update technology needs in our schools. This is key to providing a 21stcentury education. Schools will get a say in what technology infrastructure improvements they need. $1.8 million is earmarked for hands-on science equipment. Furthermore, the current Capital Outlay Plan will provide $1 million for the purchase of equipment and tools for students who are participating in Career and Technical Education programs (formerly called vocational education). We know that many students have career interests that do not necessarily require a college diploma. We can help these students build solid foundations for rewarding and high-paying careers in a variety of trades by simply releasing the tax money we already pay.

Jobs, jobs, jobs! APS construction and renovation projects are an investment in our community. Passing the APS Bond/Mill Levy will create hundreds of local jobs in the construction trades. In fact, over the last 8 years, 60%-73% of the commercial building permits issued in the greater metro area have been for projects funded by Bond/Mill Levy votes approved in the past (according to CMP, City of ABQ, and Bernalillo County zoning).

We have the opportunity to create our own economic stimulus right here in Bernalillo County. Answering “For” on two simple questions will infuse our local economy with over $104 million of maintenance and renovation jobs over the next 6 years. Over $96 million will be released to upgrade schools built over 40 years ago. Long overdue renovations will take place at Lavaland ES, Navajo ES, Janet Kahn ES, Monte Vista ES, Jackson MS, and Rio Grande HS. $18 million will be invested in transportation updates in the East Mountains, South Valley, and the Westside.

School maintenance is of the utmost importance to our students’ health. Construction jobs created by the passage of these measures will allow us to fix leaking roofs, repair air conditioning, and replace ancient water pipes that threaten our students with high lead levels. The money will pay for basic necessities like extermination services to combat vermin in our buildings. We will have $10 million to ensure that our schools are accessible to all learners as we strive to make all buildings wheelchair accessible and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). $4.5 million will be spent on up-to-date security systems like swipers that will limit access to our campuses to those who potentially intend harm to our students.

We know that well-balanced education is not only about the 3 R’s. We need to educate the whole child. That’s why the new Capital Outlay Plan calls for a $7.3 million investment in Music and Fine Arts Education so that students are well-rounded citizens who can use the arts to enhance the quality of their lives. A $4.8 million investment in new PE equipment will help to keep our youth healthy by building exercise and diet habits. Our sports programs will benefit from $3 million of spending on turf for our soccer, baseball, and football fields. Providing students these after school opportunities helps them make informed and healthy choices. The purchase of turf will decrease energy and water demands at our schools, saving money and our environment in the long run. Capital funds are also used to replenish our school libraries with new books.

Share these talking points with your friends, family, colleagues and community. You also have the opportunity to voice your opinions publicly as APS will hold Open House Conversations across the city to discuss the Bond/Mill Levy and other important issues at Harrison Middle School September 30th 5:30-7pm, and James Monroe Middle School October 7th 5:30-7pm. Come out and join the discussion.

Voting has never been easier with Absentee Voting beginning October 8th. Early Voting runs from October 19th until November 2nd and Election Day is November 5th. Bernco.gov has posted a complete listing of voting sites and the complete ballot questions.

For more information, visit the Bond/Mill Levy Election (APS Capital Master Plan) page.

 


APS/ATF Joint Memo On Evaluation Changes

MEMORANDUM

 

September 2019

 

To:     All APS teachers and principals

From:     Todd Torgerson, Chief of Human Resources & Legal Support Services

Dr. Richard Bowman, Chief Information and Strategy Officer

Dr. Ellen Bernstein, ATF President

 

Re:     Changes in Teachers Evaluation systems for the 2019-2020 School year

 

The New Mexico Public Education Department’s (NMPED) Teacher Evaluation Task Force recently released recommendations and information about the interim teacher evaluation system. These changes are for this year only. This transitional year will allow the NMPED time to gather more input from the Task Force and other educators, and that input will help shape and design an evaluation system that is equitable, useful, and transparent to serve New Mexico educators for years to come.

Observation Rubric and Requirements

The transitional evaluation system, which replaces NMTeach, is called the NM Interim Feedback & Observation Plan. Administrators will use the Frontline Education Employee Evaluation Management system (the same website from last year) to enter and score observations, artifacts, and Professional Development Plans (PDP’s). The observations are to include “actionable and timely feedback” for teachers. The NMPED states the intent is, “to ensure that we are promoting teacher growth and development throughout the feedback processes.”

The domains remain the same. Domain 1: Planning and Preparation; Domain 2: Creating an Environment for Learning; Domain 3: Teaching for Learning; Domain 4: Professionalism.

The “effectiveness” labels will be replaced with 4 new classifications: Innovating, Applying, Developing, and Not Demonstrating. The former 5th category, “Exemplary,” has been stricken from the system because the elements were not observable classroom practices.

NMPED is recommending that teachers in Levels 2 & 3 have a minimum of one observation per year and Level 1 teachers have a minimum of two observations per year.

In our district, the formal observations should be scheduled as follows:

  • Level 1 teachers will have 2 formal observations, one in each semester, consisting of one scheduled and one unscheduled.
    • Please note: these labels have been intentionally changed to indicate that teachers are on a developmental continuum, and Level 1 teachers should know that it’s okay to be “Developing.”
  • Level 2 and 3 teachers will have at least 1 formal observation that can occur at any time.
    • During the pre-observation conference (as per Article 13 of the Negotiated Agreement), the principal and teacher may agree on whether the formal observation will be scheduled or unscheduled.
  • General information about observations and walkthroughs:
    • The walkthroughs are unscheduled.
    • If during a walkthrough a principal observes that a teacher is struggling, we are recommending that the formal observation be completed no later than the end of October. That way, if support is needed, it can be provided sooner rather than later.
    • Walkthroughs and formal observations, together, are intended to increase the evaluator’s knowledge of the teacher’s practice over time and to help inform scoring.
    • Please note that Article 13 of the APS/ATF Negotiated agreement states:
  • Teachers will be observed whenever there is a concern regarding performance.
  • Teachers may request to be observed at any time.

Walkthroughs

NMPED is requiring three scored walkthroughs. The walkthroughs are focused on providing “actionable and timely feedback.” Principals are not expected to focus on every element in Domains 2 and 3; they should only select a few. The scores captured on this form will NOT be included as a part of the teacher's summative score. These forms are embedded in the NM Interim Feedback & Observation Plan built into Frontline. Building/District Administrators determine focus areas for walkthroughs.

Professional Development Plan (PDP)

Each educator’s completion of a yearly PDP is still an important requirement. As per our Negotiated Agreement, “A Professional Development Plan (PDP) is an individualized plan that is intended to improve teaching. Each plan should be unique to the goals and growth areas identified by the teacher and his or her supervisor. A PDP will be required of teachers every year. PDP's may be written to extend over three years but must be initialed yearly. Information regarding the PDP will be shared with the teacher within forty (40) workdays after the beginning of the school year.”

Clarifications about Summative Evaluations for 2019-2020

Based on Task Force recommendations for the School Year 2019-20, the following changes were put in place:

  1. Student growth scores will not be included.
  2. Teacher attendance will not be included.

 Domains 1 and 4

There have been no changes to the process for evaluating Domains 1 and 4. As per our past APS/ATF Guidance:

Domain 1: (Planning and Preparation) is generally scored in the first semester:

  • Principals are required to score Domain 1 for each teacher. In order to do this, the principals must have evidence on each teacher’s planning.
  • One detailed lesson plan or unit plan that exemplifies the domain and the elements will be required from each teacher. If possible, provide the lesson that will be formally observed.
  • There is no mandated template for Domain 1.
  • Turning in detailed lesson plans weekly is not required for Domain 1.

Domain 4: (Professionalism) is best assessed over time, not a moment in time. Additional information about a teacher’s professionalism may be gathered informally during daily work, professional interactions, and walk-throughs.

  • Teachers are not required to keep evidence binders, however evidence and artifacts are required.
  • Teachers are not required to script their lessons, but principals may be scripting during observations.
  • Conversations between the principal and teacher are essential to ensure there is communication concerning evidence in the domains.

The rubrics for each domain have also been released and can be viewed here:

Components of the Evaluation System  (as delineated in the NMPED memos, and the domains that pertain to each):

  • Required Walkthrough # 1 (Domains 2 & 3) is to be completed in the first 45 days of the school year or the first 45 days of employment. Ideally, it should be performed before the PDP is due. Walkthrough forms are the same as the formal observation forms. The NMPED’s guidance focuses on “Actionable and Timely Feedback” affording educators the opportunity to improve their practice with no threat of an unchangeable score. The scores captured on this form will NOT be included as a part of the teacher’s summative evaluation.
  • Professional Development Plan (PDP) is a tool for Teacher Self-Evaluation. Teachers are to complete a Beginning of the Year PDP: Goal Setting form, which will be due within the first 45 days of school (or first 45 days of employment). The scores on this rubric are NOT tied to the teacher’s summative score but provide an opportunity to become familiar with the Domains and the tasks required to fulfill the evaluation demands. There is an optional Mid-Year PDP Review form. The PDP component concludes with the End of the Year PDP Reflection form due by May 22, 2020.
  • Required Walkthrough #2 (Domains 2 & 3) is due by December 10, 2019. The scores captured on this form will NOT be included as part of the teacher’s summative score. This walkthrough is meant to provide actionable and timely feedback.
  • Required Walkthrough #3 (Domains 2 & 3) is due by May 8, 2020. The scores captured on this form will NOT be included as part of the teacher’s summative score. This walkthrough is meant to provide actionable and timely feedback.
  • Professional Responsibilities (Domain 1): Administrators will complete a Domain 1 Scoring Form and the Domain 1 Frontline Artifact Collection form by December 10, 2019 and finalize it by May 22, 2020. The teacher can review their scores and acknowledge the form. The evaluator should also provide actionable feedback to the teacher. The evaluator should schedule a time to share actionable feedback with the educator within ten days of completing the observation.
  • Domains 2 & 3 Observation: Teachers will submit a Pre-Observation form and a Post-Observation Reflection formAdministrators will submit notes and scores for the observation, due by May 8, 2020.
  • Professional Responsibilities (Domain 4): Administrators will submit a Scoring Form and Frontline Artifact Collection form, due by May 8, 2020.
  • End of Year Summary Reflection is to be submitted as a self-reflection by the Teacher and there will also be an End of the Year Summary submitted by the evaluator, due by May 8, 2020.

Improvement Plans

The only change from previous years will be for Level 1 teachers, especially in the first year of teaching. As noted above, scoring a “2” is acceptable in the first year.

Level Number of observations Timing of formal observations Scores for Domains 2 and 3 that determine the need for an improvement plan
 

1 (1st year)

 

2

Fall and Spring

(1 scheduled,

1 unscheduled)

None – teacher receives mentorship and onsite support
(2nd year) 2 Fall and Spring

(1 scheduled,

1 unscheduled)

Site Plan: 2.4 – 2.9

District Plan: below 2.4

1 (3 + years) 2 Fall and Spring

(1 scheduled,

1 unscheduled)

Site Plan: 2.5 – 2.9

District Plan: below 2.5

2 1 Scheduled Site Plan: 2.5 – 2.9

District Plan: below 2.5

3 1 Scheduled Site: 2.5 – 2.9

District: below 2.5

 

Support

Support for principals in writing Improvement Plans is provided by Ree Chacon, PAR Coordinator. Contact Ree at chacon_am@aps.edu, or 253-0335, ext. 67055.

Teachers who are struggling with any aspect of their work who are interested in Voluntary Consulting Teacher Support should contact the ATF at 262-2657, the PAR Coordinator (see above), or the Mentor Program Coordinator Michelle Lemons (lemons_m@aps.edu).

Next Year

The Task Force will roll out a more comprehensive system for School Year 2020-21 and beyond. They will provide final recommendations to the Secretary of Education and the Governor by the early spring of 2020. You can find the most current information at the NMPED’s Educator Growth and Development website as this work progresses.


Evaluation Changes

The New Mexico Public Education Department’s (PED) Teacher Evaluation Task Force recently released recommendations and information about the interim teacher evaluation system. These changes are for this year only. The intent is to allow PED to gather input from the Task Force and other educators and take time to design a just and equitable evaluation system that is useful and transparent to serve New Mexico educators for many years.

The evaluation system will not be called NMTeach anymore. For now, it is called the NM Interim Feedback & Observation Plan. Administrators will use the Frontline Education Employee Evaluation Management system (the same website from last year) to enter and score observations, artifacts, and Professional Development Plans (PDPs). The observations are to include “actionable and timely feedback” to teachers. The PED’s memo says that this is to “ensure that we are promoting teacher growth and development throughout the feedback processes”.

The “effectiveness” labels of the Martinez Administration will no longer be used. They will be replaced with 4 new classifications: Innovating, Applying, Developing, and Not Demonstrating. The former 5thcategory, “Exemplary,” has been stricken from the system because the elements were not observable classroom practices. NMPED is recommending that teachers in Levels 2 & 3 have a minimum of one observation per year and Level 1 teachers have a minimum of two observations per year. Districts may add additional observations as they deem necessary. PED is telling districts that there will be three required “walkthroughs” that focus on feedback around the elements of the domains and the observation rubric, but these will not be scored as part of teachers’ summative evaluations.

Each educator’s completion of a yearly PDP is still an important requirement. The rubrics for each domain have also been released and can be viewed here:

NMPED is finalizing the calculation for summative scores and plan to have this completed by September 9th. Training for new administrators is scheduled for September 11-13.

Here are the components of the Evaluation System, as delineated in the NM PED memos and the domains that pertain to each:

  • Required Walkthrough # 1 (Domains 2 & 3) is to be completed in the first 45 days of the school year or the first 45 days of employment.It should ideally be performed before the PDP is due. “Actionable and Timely Feedback” should be the name of the game on all three walkthrough observations, affording educators the opportunity to improve their practice with no threat of “the got ya”. The scores captured on this form will NOT be included as a part of the teacher's summative evaluation.
  • Professional Development Plan is a tool for Teacher Self-Evaluation. Teachers are to complete a Beginning of the Year PDP: Goal Settingform which will be due within the first 45 days of school (or first 45 days of employment). The scores on this rubric aren’t tied to the teacher’s summative score, but provide an opportunity to become familiar with the Domains and the tasks required to fulfill the evaluation demands. There will be a Mid-Year PDP Review form, which is optional, and an End of the Year PDP Reflection form due by May 22, 2020.
  • Required Walkthrough #2 (Domains 2 & 3) is due by December 10, 2019. The scores captured on this form will NOT be included as part of the teacher's summative score. This walkthrough is meant to provide actionable and timely feedback.
  • Required Walkthrough #3 (Domains 2 & 3) is due by May 8, 2020. The scores captured on this form will NOT be included as part of the teacher's summative score. This walkthrough is meant to provide actionable and timely feedback.
  • Professional Responsibilities (Domain 1): Administrators will complete a Domain 1 Scoring Form and the Domain 1 Frontline Artifact Collection form by December 10, 2019 and finalize it by May 22, 2020. The teacher can review their scores and acknowledge the form. The observer should also provide actionable feedback to the teacher. The observer should schedule a time to share actionable feedback with the educator within ten days of completing the observation.
  • Domains 2 & 3 Observation: Teachers will submit a Pre-Observationform and Post-Observation Reflection form.Administrators will submit notes and scores for the observation due by May 8, 2020.
  • Professional Responsibilities (Domain 4): Administrators will submit a Scoring Form and Frontline Artifact Collection form due by May 8, 2020.
  • End of Year Summary Reflection is to be submitted as a self-reflection by the Teacher and there will also be an End of the Year Summary by the Evaluator due by May 8, 2020.

Rest assured, as soon as more information becomes available, your union will keep you in the know. ATF President Ellen Bernstein and AFT-NM President Stephanie Ly are both members of the Task Force and will push for fairness and meaningful feedback. You can bet that ATF will advocate for a just and equitable evaluation system for all certified educators in our on-going endeavor to build a world-class educational system in New Mexico.

 


Sick Leave Bank: Union-Created, Employee-Owned

Prior to 1993, when APS educators ran out of sick leave because of a catastrophic illness or injury, they were financially on their own. When they used up their sick leave they were left with only one choice—leave without pay. Stress about paying the bills compounded the effects of their debilitation, as they were left to wonder how they would make ends meet without the paycheck they had come to rely on. Co-workers looked on with concern and asked why there was no mechanism through which they could donate their own sick leave to help a colleague in need.

That’s when the benefits of having a strong union to negotiate for us kicked in.  Albuquerque Teachers Federation negotiated the creation of the employee-owned Sick Leave Bank (SLB). The SLB relies on small contributions from those of us who are healthy enough to work. The value of the peace of mind and financial stability for educators in recovery cannot be calculated. Just $5.75 per paycheck ensures that, collectively, we are able to help those who have exhausted their sick leave because of a catastrophic illness or injury.

The Sick Leave Bank is available to all employees covered by the APS/ATF Negotiated Agreement. It exemplifies one of the basic tenets of unionism: all boats should rise together. For this small contribution, our co-workers and their families can rest assured that they can hold out and keep their bills at bay until they return to work serving our students.

Open enrollment for Sick Leave Bank began August 1, 2019 and ends October 31, 2019. SLB Guidelines can be picked up at 6400 Uptown Blvd. NE, Suite 210 East or downloaded from the APS website  or at ATF's website. Call APS's Sick Leave Bank Specialist at 889-4858 for more information.

This is just one more great benefit of our union’s advocacy.  Not a member yet? Join now!


Student Debt Clinics Return!

Albuquerque Teachers Federation will host Student Loan Debt Clinics this month on two back-to-back dates: Tuesday, September 17th and Wednesday, September 18th. Both have 4:30pm start times. The American Federation of Teachers-created clinics will be facilitated by local union members. The purpose of the clinic is to inform ATF members about options for loan repayment and forgiveness.

“We know that student loan debt is a huge concern for our members,” said ATF President Ellen Bernstein. “Helping our members with their student loan debt is union work.”

A study conducted by our national union, the American Federation of Teachers, reported that AFT members are increasingly losing sleep over their student loans; they’ve made decisions between buying groceries and paying medical expenses or paying off their loan debt. Dozens have even reported thoughts of suicide.

Our union is doing our part to help alleviate some of the stress.

Participants in the ATF Student Loan Debt Clinic have left with a renewed sense of hope after receiving clear information from our trainers. The debunking of loan myths and common misconceptions coupled with clear guidance from our trainers has set members on a path to loan forgiveness.

Our ATF Student Loan Debt Clinics are for ATF members only. This is just one of the many benefits of union membership. If you are not a member of ATF, join now.

To register for one of the debt clinics, click here. Select “NEW MEXICO: Albuquerque Teachers Federation 09/17/2019” or “NEW MEXICO: Albuquerque Teachers Federation 09/18/2019” from the drop down menu.

 


APS/ATF Special Education Task Force Makes Progress

“It takes a lot of time and effort to change broken systems. Nothing changes without collective advocacy.”- ATF President Dr. Ellen Bernstein

Thursday, August 22, 2019, was a sweltering dog day with near-record heat, as special educators filed into the APS Berna Facio Professional Development Complex to discuss recent progress made by the APS/ATF Special Education Task Force. Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein and other members of the joint task force discussed the agreements with district officials while other special educators from across the city asked clarifying questions and shared insights. Two changes in special education practices were highlighted as great steps forward in addressing educator concerns.

  • The first was an agreement to use the PED’s Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Program (BIP) process and paperwork requirements. This will cut workloads for educators attempting to address behavioral concerns for students and to secure social work services for at-risk students. It was also agreed that an FBA/BIP is not required before requesting a referral for a social/emotional evaluation for School Social Work services.

 

  • The second agreement was to re-establish district-wide special education Instructional Councils for a wide variety of teachers and service providers, establishing democratic means to address issues within the Special Education Department.

Both changes were a long time coming and way overdue. These agreements are the culmination of 2 ½ years of union educator advocacy. On behalf of our members, we had long been trying to address what looked like a broken system in the APS Special Education Department, decrying excessive workloads, poor communication between district administration and special education providers, the constant addition of mandated work as the district reacted to lawsuits, and the district’s reticence to put mandates into writing or provide support for educators to meet new mandates.

To address these issues, ATF started a Special Education Committee which began meetings with the APS Special Education Department administration in January of 2017.

Some agreements were made in the early 2017 meetings, but there was a lack of follow through from the district and no headway was made toward systemic change. Abrupt mandates continued to flow from district administrations, systems were still glaringly broken, and staff workloads increased with no additional support or guidance given.

The problems continued to simmer into 2018 with high-level talks between the ATF President and district administration stalling. Union President Ellen Bernstein felt that the district was unwilling to listen to the concerns of educators.

The issue that finally pushed educators to demand action involved changes in the FBA/BIP paperwork. As a result of new mandates, the two-page form became a 30-page behemoth that taxed educators’ time and delayed the provision of services for very needy students. Special educators were also told that no child could receive social work services without the implementation of an FBA/BIP. Educators were fed up.

In frustration, the ATF Fed Rep Council debated a Vote of No Confidence against the APS Special Education Department administration. 30 special educators, all union members, joined President Bernstein to speak at the Board of Education meeting. Superintendent Raquel Reedy said that she heard their concerns clearly.

In meetings with our union president, the superintendent agreed to jointly commission a Sanderoff Poll to measure employee satisfaction and expose trouble spots that were driving educators out of APS and pushing morale to an all-time low. The poll was conducted in the summer of 2018 and its results were no shock to ATF leadership or educators across the district. The results indicated widespread dissatisfaction with educators’ work environments, low morale, and a deep frustration with poor communications.

Although 85% of special educators polled believed their jobs serving students are meaningful and 74% were satisfied with the work they do with students, only 42% recommended APS as a good place to work.  Respondents pointed to low morale and major workload issues, excessive paperwork, little time for lesson planning and preparation, and a lack of compensation for additional time spent working outside the contract day.  The source of these troubles became apparent.

While 81% of participants believed they were treated fairly by their immediate supervisor (principals, assistant principals, and other site administrators) educators consistently attached their dissatisfaction to a lack of collaboration between district administration and staff, poor communication between APS Special Ed. Dept. administrators and staff, lack of training in curricula and instructional strategies, and constant mandated changes in policies and procedures that were not put in writing.

A confirmation of these findings came through a September 2018 visit from Council of Great City Schools. The Council found that the district has many assets that are being under-used such as talented and dedicated staff, the Child Find program, a focus on not over-identifying EL students and the vast majority of special education evaluations being completed on time. However, they noted a special education population that was higher than the national average, students taught in overly segregated settings, students in special education using markedly different materials than their general education counterparts, a weak professional development system in the district, extremely poor district communication, a low level of trust in APS administration on the part of ATF, lack of a district-wide positive behavior system, low numbers of school psychologists, and poorly executed parent engagement.

The Council recommended a focused district-wide positive-behavior system, more cooperation between the district, the union, and local higher education institutions, a clearly defined Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) focusing on prevention of academic and behavioral problems, the alignment of academic supports for all students, greater accountability of district administration, school-based leadership alignment, and differentiated PD options for educators.  The Council noted that administrators lacked a common vision and teachers lacked the support of mid-level administrators. APS was found to need a uniform district-wide SAT process.

These findings and recommendations validated many of the educators’ assertions. Furthermore, special education staff spoke of their exclusion from decision-making. “We know that when people don’t believe they have influence, they become disengaged,”  said Dr. Bernstein.

Taking the two studies above into account, the district and the union set up the Special Education Joint Task Force which began meeting in January 2019.  Once again, educators on the panel felt frustrated and talks almost broke down early on because educators felt that APS administration was stalling on making significant commitments to change. Union leadership even contemplated reviving the No Confidence vote. Continued pressure from ATF finally prevailed as the Task Force continued their work through the summer.

As a result of the union’s perseverance, Instructional Councils (ICs), the cornerstone of democratic decision-making in our worksites and schools, will be re-instated on a district level for several special education role groups.  ICs for Social Workers, Speech and Language Therapists, Transition Specialists, Head Special Ed. Teachers, Evaluators (School Psychologists, Diagnosticians, SLP & OT Evaluators) and Motor Therapists (OT, PT, OMS, APE) are now guaranteed the same rights as their counterparts at school sites.

Another win ATF extracted from this joint task force work is that starting in August 2019, we have agreed to use the NM PED’s established BIP/FBA process. This will eliminate mounds of paperwork for educators and streamline procedures to secure needed services to students. An FBA/BIP is no longer required before requesting a referral for a social/emotional evaluation for School Social Work services. However, if a school team chooses, they can continue to use the 2018-19 FBA/BIP process and forms.

Special Education Role Group Instructional Councils will meet on the 1stand 3rd Thursdays of each month from 4:30-6:30pm. ATF will facilitate the elections for representatives from each of the above listed role groups. If you would like to self-nominate for a Special Education Instructional Council, you can do so here.

We would like to thank the ATF members who worked so diligently toward these wins.


HOW TO CHECK YOUR CHECK

How to Check Your Check

Pay Issues? Want to know if you are being paid the correct amount? Use this method.

1) Download the salary matrices at : https://atfunion.org/download/2019-2020-salary-matrices/.  In this example, the educator is on the AT3 Schedule for Level 3 teachers, nurses, counselors, social workers and interpreters.

2) Then, move down the chart to your step (usually completed years of service + 1). This number is your annual salary step for the current school year. Next, find your appropriate column by referencing your highest degree and any additional credit hours you’ve verified with APS.

3) In this example, the Level 3 educator has a MA+15 and is on Step 23 (just started their 23rd year). The educator’s base pay should be $61,344. Note: This amount does not include differentials for selling prep, working in a high needs placement (SES, IGS, etc.), TESOL delivery, National Boards, etc. This is your base salary.

4) Divide your yearly salary by 26 (number of checks per year). In this example $61,344 divided by 26 = $2359.38.

5) The answer to your division problem should be represented on your APS check in the top left box on the line that says “Regular” in the column that says “Amount”.

6) To double check your check, take this amount and multiply it by 26. It should equal your basesalary ($2,359.39 x 26 = $61,344.14).

Members who discover an irregularity in the amount of their check, can report it here https://leadernet.aft.org/webform/irregularities-august-16-2019-paycheck. ATF staff will work with APS payroll to help each member with a pay problem. If you are not yet a member of your union, click here to join .


KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! THE NEW CONTRACT IS NOW AVAILABLE!

The 2019-2020 APS/ATF Negotiated Agreement is ready for download here. After garnering overwhelming approval by members of our Bargaining Unit (98.4% vote "yes") and the APS Board of Education (passed 6-1), we are happy to provide the new contract which is formatted as a searchable pdf and now has a “clickable” table of contents. It’s easier than ever to search contract language and clarify your contractual rights.

We celebrate our union’s victories as we move into the new school year. However, we still have much work left to ensure that all educators in our bargaining unit receive equal pay and work in the best teaching and learning conditions possible.  We can only achieve these goals by working together and standing in solidarity.  If you are not yet a member, now is the time to join.  If you are a member, get involved and we will work to achieve the respect our profession deserves.

The money for raises allocated during the 2019 Legislative Session was substantial, and we are grateful for the long-overdue increases for all teachers on the 3-Tiered Licensure System. The Legislature increased the 3-tiered minimum salaries for teachers to $41,000, $50,000, and $60,000. This equates to between a 10.8% and 14.3% increase. (In dollar amounts, this is about $5,000 to $6,000).

Unfortunately, this funding for educator raises was both unfair and unequal. Approximately 1,200 of the most experienced teachers in APS, and all the “other licensed staff,” were allocated less than half of that amount—they were only provided a 6% pay increase. The “other licensed staff” includes over 800 additional employees who work as counselors, social workers, nurses, interpreters, special education therapists/therapy assistants, and audiologists. These essential and related service educators provide crucial services to our students.

For more than 14 years, ATF has worked tirelessly for all Essential and Related Service Educators, and again, we are proud to have successfully negotiated salaries for them equal to their teaching peers. The equity in the 3-Tiered minimums equates to an average of $2,700 more for this role group than the state appropriated.

ATF also successfully negotiated a 7% increase for all experienced educators, diagnosticians, school psychologists, and transition specialists—over $500 more than the state allocated.

Click here to view the 2019-2020 Salary Matrices

A summary of the Changes in the APS/ATF Negotiated Agreement:

Equipment for Nurses and Psychologists

The updates to the language recognize school psychologists as a group guaranteeing basic equipment. School nurses’ equipment now includes a locking cabinet for medications!

Short term employees

Short term employees are no longer automatically “pink-slipped”. If the short term position is continuing the next year, short term employees can more easily get hired on a regular contract.

Process for lost preparation and lunch time and clean up

Outlines the process for payment for lost prep time or lost duty free lunch time. Educators that are affected need to fill out a timesheet for time lost. Timesheets are available through the payroll department and must be signed by the principal and the principal’s supervisor.

Higher Ed Experience Clarification

Clears up language for calculation of higher ed experience and allows for adding multiple years of experience to qualify as towards the 570 hours (one year).

Mileage

Changed to DFA rate to match practice.

National Board Certified Educators Differential

Updated to $6,848.11.

Updates to Instructional Council language

Updates language and clarifies discretionary budget funded positions. Re-establishes Special Education At-Large Instructional Councils.

Changes to Mentor/PAR Programs

Clarifies language of length of PAR requirements. Clarifies differentials for mentor teachers. Added language to include the PAR Coordinator in decisions for each specific recommendation to help ensure it is the correct action for that individual teacher. Mostly clean-up changes.

Updates to the Career Pathway System

Changed the name from Support and Related Services Personnel (S&RSP) to Essential and Related Service Educators (E&RSE). The new title, E&RSE, more accurately reflects the impact and contributions to students. Our counselors, social workers, nurses, interpreters, SLPs, OTs, PTs, Audiologists, and Orientation and Mobility Specialists are all highly valued educators! Language added to allow 90% employees(COTAs and PTAs) to move up the Career Pathway System.

Streamlined payment for special education teacher case overload.

Removes previous language requiring teachers to fill out timesheets in order to get paid for additional services. Language added to streamline payment process for additional services. The new language no longer requires teachers to fill out timesheets. Instead, overload compensation will be calculated four times per year and teachers will automatically be paid in four lump sums based on caseloads as reported in Synergy.

Waiver for over 3 preps in High School

Language added to provide an official form for secondary teachers who agree to teach more than three preps. This agreement must be on a yearly basis and the form must be filled out each year.

Updates to leaves language

Adds language to include great-grandchild, great-grandparent, niece, and nephew as immediate family members. Adds language about when sick leave starts and can be used. Language added to include passed legislation (SB157) that provides a process of converting unused sick leave to earned service credit.

Click here to download the NEW CONTRACT

Appendix A: Salary Matrices

(Posted in separate PDF)

Appendix B

Discontinuation of Waiver on Class Size Requirements for SY 2019-2020

Appendix B

Discontinuation of Waiver on Class Size Requirements for SY 2019-2020

Appendix I.1

2019-2020 Professional Development Days and Teacher Preparation Day

Appendix I.10

Agreement to work on SLP and Social Worker Caseload Overages

Appendix I.19

Agreement to phase in Athletic Trainers to a 1.0 FTE over 3 years. 

Appendix I.33 New Advisory MOU

New language establishes two Task Forces on Advisories, one for middle school and one for high school.

Appendix I.34 MOU addresses the new Teacher Leader Facilitator positions

Language describing the job duties and requirements assigned to the three levels (district, zone, site). Provides guidelines for differentials, number of positions, and elections of the Teacher Leader Facilitator position.

Appendix I.35

An agreement to update and increase many of the pay differentials.

Appendix I.37

An agreement to create a Task Force to research, evaluate the potential impact, and present recommendations Paid Parental Leave

 

Thank you to our ATF Negotiations Team:

Ellen Bernstein, ATF President

Sean Thomas, Executive VP, Eldorado Hs

Chelsea O’Connell, Treasurer, John Baker ES

Dwayne Norris, Membership & Involvement VP, Bandelier ES

Tanya Kuhnee, High School VP, Eldorado HS

Jason Krosinsky, Middle School VP, McKinley MS

Sonya Romero Smith, Lew Wallace ES and Loyola Cortinas, Valle Vista ES Elementary School VPs

Angela Reynolds, Support & Related, Services Providers VP, NE Diagnostic Center