Thursday, March 05, 2015


The 2015-16 New York City School calendar has been released.  While the press has noted the addition of a Muslim holiday as a day off during the regular year, we here at ICE are puzzled by the inclusion of four open school evenings.

This confusion is based on the fact that the portion of the UFT contract calling for four open school evenings and extended time Mondays and Tuesdays is a one year citywide pilot that has to be renegotiated by the DOE and UFT to continue for next year. We traditionally had only two open school evenings.

Has there been a secret agreement to continue the extended time provision?  Is there an extended time agreement that we missed here? We understand that the DOE passed the calendar by the UFT before they released it. It says this in the fine print.

If anyone but our current Unity leadership was in charge of our union, they would be outraged that a calendar had been published with four open school evenings without approval of the UFT which has to agree to this provision.

The calendar acknowledges that there could be changes due to collective bargaining agreements but at the same time a closer look at the DOE calendar page shows the DOE has put out a memorandum on the four open school evenings. Apparently, they aren't expecting any problems from the union.

Whether the extended time agreement is positive or negative is not the point here, the problem is it looks like UFT members will be left without much voice on the issue. So what else is new?

2015-16 SCHOOL YEAR CALENDAR March 4, 2015 

The School Year Calendar mandates that school sessions begin for all students on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 and includes a Midwinter Recess (Monday, February 15 through Friday, February 19, 2016). It reflects that on Tuesday, November 3, 2015, and Thursday, June 9, 2016, students in all five boroughs will not be in attendance, but schools in all five boroughs will be scheduled for a Chancellor’s Conference Day for staff development related to the implementation of high learning standards and assessments. The calendar must be adhered to without exception, unless notifications of subsequent changes are received pursuant to collective bargaining agreements or for other reasons, provided these other reasons are not inconsistent with collective bargaining or legal obligations. 
August 31 Monday The following staff report: Assistant Principals and school-based intermediate supervisors not designated to work an increased work year. 

September 7 Monday Labor Day (schools closed)

September 8 Tuesday Teachers report. Students will not be in attendance.

September 9 Wednesday School Session Begins For All Students. Early dismissal for non District 75 kindergarten students only. Partial school time for prekindergarten public school students.
September  10 Thursday First full day for non-District 75 kindergarten students. Partial school time for pre-kindergarten public school students.
September  14, 15 Monday & Tuesday
Rosh Hashanah (schools closed)

September 23 Wednesday Yom Kippur (schools closed)

September 24 Thursday Eid al-Adha  (schools closed)

October 12 Monday Columbus Day Observed (schools closed)

October 22 Thursday Pre-kindergarten Non-Attendance Day

November 3 Tuesday Election Day. Chancellor’s Conference Day for staff development. Students will not be in attendance.

November 11 Wednesday Veterans Day observed (schools closed)

November 26, 27 Thursday & Friday
Thanksgiving Recess (schools closed)

December 3 Thursday Pre-kindergarten Non-Attendance Day
December 24- January 1
Thursday – Friday
Winter Recess (including Christmas and New Year's Day) (schools closed)

January 18 Monday Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (schools closed)

January 28 Thursday Pre-kindergarten Non-Attendance Day

February 1 Monday Chancellor’s Conference Day for staff development in all non-D75 high schools. Non-D75 high school students will not be in attendance. All other students will be in attendance. (See section 8 below for details on high school student attendance on February 1.)

February 2 Tuesday Spring Term begins for high school students.
February 15-19
Monday – Friday
Midwinter Recess (including Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday, observed) (schools closed)

March 25 Friday Good Friday (schools closed)

April 21 Thursday Pre-kindergarten Non-Attendance Day

April 25-29
Monday – Friday
Spring Recess (including Passover) (schools closed)

May 30 Monday Memorial Day Observed (schools closed)

June 8 Wednesday June Clerical Half-Day for elementary and middle school students.
June 9 Thursday Chancellor’s Conference Day for staff development. In all five boroughs students will not be in attendance.

June 14 Tuesday June Clerical Half-Day for elementary and middle school students.

June 23 Thursday Regents Rating Day. In non-District 75 high schools, students will not be in attendance. All other students will be in attendance.

June 28 Tuesday Last Day For All Students. Early dismissal of all students under the guidelines outlined in Section 13 below. Last day for all Classroom Teachers, Bilingual Teachers in School and Community Relations, Attendance Teachers, Nurses, Therapists, Laboratory Specialists and Technicians, and Paraprofessionals.

June 29, 30 
Wednesday & Thursday
All other staff report except Classroom Teachers, Bilingual Teachers in School and Community Relations, Attendance Teachers, Nurses, Therapists, Laboratory Specialists and Technicians, and Paraprofessionals. 
The school year calendar incorporates the following understandings: 

1. That this calendar does not preclude subsequent changes that may be made pursuant to collective bargaining agreements or for other reasons, but in no case can this calendar or subsequent changes result in a loss of state aid; 

2. That all requests for shortened sessions resulting in early dismissals of students and any other changes in this calendar must be submitted for review and approval. Subsequent to receiving approval, 4 weeks prior notification to parents must be provided; 
3. That the Chancellor shall use the power vested in him or her by law when, in violation of this citywide school year calendar, a school is closed or shortened sessions (defined in section 10 below) are scheduled without prior authorization. 

The following should also be noted: 
4. The School Year Calendar for 2015-16 meets the State Education Department requirement of a minimum of 180 state aidable days in all schools in the City School District. 

5. On September 8, 2015 the following staff report: Classroom Teachers, Bilingual Teachers in School and Community Relations, Guidance Counselors, Attendance Teachers, Nurses, Therapists, Laboratory Specialists and Technicians, and Educational Paraprofessionals. School Secretaries, Psychologists and Social Workers report for a regular work day. Employees in titles not listed should consult the applicable collective bargaining agreement. For all UFT-represented employees who, pursuant to the June 22, 2009 agreement, report to school on the Tuesday following Labor Day, that Tuesday shall be utilized first and foremost for preparation of the classroom and for the arrival of students. If time permits, the remainder of the day may be utilized for professional development. 

6. All schools will be open citywide on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 2015 and on Anniversary Day, Thursday, June 9, 2016 for a Chancellor’s Conference Day for staff development related to the implementation of high learning standards and assessments. On both days, students in all five boroughs will not be in attendance. (Under Section 2586 of the Education Law, Anniversary Day is the first Thursday in June, or the second Thursday in June when the first Thursday falls within the same week as Memorial Day.)   
7. Staff development activities must meet needs that are mandated, or of high priority, including collaborative professional learning opportunities for staff related to rigorous instruction, a supportive environment, and effective leadership; implementation of the system-wide instructional approach to literacy and mathematics under the new Common Core Standards Initiative; school violence prevention and intervention; the implementation of the Continuum for Students with Disabilities; performance standards; science education; assessments, etc., as they relate to general, special and bilingual education. There must be an appropriate focus on the implementation of high learning standards and assessments. 

8. For all high schools, Monday, February 1, 2016 will be scheduled for professional development. No high school students will be in attendance, with the exception of high school level students in District 75 (these students will be in attendance on this day). The high school spring term begins on Tuesday, February 2 with a full day of instruction. 
9. All schools will be open on Friday, February 12, 2016 (Abraham Lincoln’s birthday) and students will be in attendance. 

10. A shortened session is any day when school is in session for pre-kindergarten for less than 2.5 hours of instruction, for kindergarten through grade 6 students for less than 5 hours of instruction, exclusive of lunch, or any day when school is in session for grade 7 and above students for less than 5.5 hours of instruction, exclusive of lunch. 

11. Calculations of aidable days incorporate Chancellor Conference/Regents Examination Days. Under Commissioner's Regulations, Chancellor Conference Days may include general staff orientation, curriculum development, in-service education, or Parent-Teacher Conferences. They may not include routine administrative matters such as grading examinations or pupil assignments, recordkeeping, or lesson planning.  

12. In part, the school calendar takes into account the following citywide centrally-scheduled shortened sessions: two Parent-Teacher Conference shortened sessions (one in the Fall Term and one in the Spring Term), and two clerical days of shortened session in June for elementary and middle schools. Separate notifications will be forthcoming regarding all of these citywide centrally-scheduled shortened sessions. An early dismissal of students is to be scheduled on the last day of school, subject to the guidelines outlined in section 13 below. 

13. As concerns the early dismissal of students on the last day of school (Tuesday, June 28, 2016), the day should be recorded as a regular day of instruction for purposes of the Period Attendance Report, and schools must adhere to the following guidelines: students are required to attend school, pupil attendance must be taken, recorded and reported as part of the average daily attendance, and students are to receive instruction and/or guidance and assistance as needed. Schools should provide at least 4 weeks prior notice to parents and to the Office of Pupil Transportation regarding the specific time they have set for the early dismissal at their site. 

14. To avoid the risk of a reduction in State Aid, and to limit impacts on bus scheduling for students, schools will not be closed, or shortened sessions (defined in section 10 above) will not be scheduled, without prior authorization. Prior to requesting a shortened session, on a timely basis, the following should be considered: in weeks when a single scheduled shortened session for kindergarten through grade 6 is requested, the school must still be in session for 25 hours of instruction, exclusive of lunch. When a shortened session is scheduled during a 4 day week (for instance, when the week includes a holiday), the school must still be in session for 20 hours of instruction over that week, exclusive of lunch. Further clarification and information on exceptions are available upon request. 

15. In a week when, exclusive of lunch, 25 hours of instruction are scheduled for kindergarten through grade 6 students, or 20 hours in a 4 day week, and an approved shortened session is scheduled, schools may designate that shortened session as a regular day of instruction for purposes of the Period Attendance Report. For students in grades 7 and above, in weeks when a single scheduled shortened session is requested, the school must still be in session for 27.5 hours of instruction, exclusive of lunch. When a shortened session is scheduled during a 4 day week (for instance, when the week includes a holiday), the school must still be in session for 22 hours of instruction over that week, exclusive of lunch.
16. As a result of Chancellor Conference Days, shortened sessions for various purposes, and Regents Days, the total number of instructional days (days when students report to school) may be different from the number of state aidable days. 

17. For Non-District 75 Kindergarten, there are 182 aidable days (180 instructional days). 
18. For District 75 Kindergarten through Grade 6 Level and All Grades 1 through 6, there are 183 aidable days (180 instructional days). 

19. For Grades 7 and 8 Citywide and Grade 9 in Middle Schools (including District 75), there are 182 aidable days (180 instructional days).     
20. For High School Level Grades 9 through 12, there are 183 aidable days in all boroughs, 166 of which are instructional (in District 75, there are 182 aidable days, 180 of which are instructional days).
21. Concerning the partial school time for pre-kindergarten students (staggered entrance), it is recommended that an Orientation Session takes place on Wednesday, September 9 and Thursday, September 10, 2015 for the parents of all pre-kindergarten students. This session is to help families with the transition process. Parents or caregivers should be notified so that they can make appropriate plans regarding the schedule, pick up and drop off.  For assistance with staggered entrance, orientation or phase-in planning, please contact the Office of Early Childhood Education at 212.374.0351 or Information is also available at the Early Childhood Website at        
22. Non-attendance days for pre-kindergarten students are designed for staff to participate in professional development activities that meet the Chancellor’s mandate (see section 7 above).  Students should not be in attendance. The Office of Early Childhood Education offers professional development sessions for teachers during non-attendance days. The sessions are based on current research, performance standards, and best practices to improve student learning. 

23. For more information regarding State Assessments, including Regents Days, please visit the New York State Education Department’s website:
24. Consultation on the school year calendar has taken place with superintendents, parent representatives, religious organizations, the Nonpublic Schools Committee, and appropriate collective bargaining representatives.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


They are giving the PARCC tests this week over in New Jersey.  There seems to be a substantial protest movement against these standardized tests. 

Unlike New York City where the teachers' union will not support the NYSAPE resolution encouraging parents to opt their children out of state exams, in the garden state the teachers' union looks to be leading the fight against the standardized tests.

Go to this Asbury Park Press link to see some hard hitting powerful messages from the New Jersey Education Association opposing the PARCC exams and what they are doing to our children.

Monday, March 02, 2015


Mayor Bill de Blasio wants permanent mayoral control of New York City schools.  The law giving the mayor control sunsets in June and has to be renewed by the State Legislature or we revert to the old seven person Board of Education with each Borough President picking one representative and the mayor selecting two. 

Under current law, the mayor picks the majority of the rubber stamp body known as the Panel for Educational Policy which rarely listens to the voice of the community. The PEP pretty much does whatever the current mayor and chancellor want. It does not seem much better under de Blasio than it was under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  I spoke to de Blasio's PEP once on behalf of Absent Teacher Reserves last November.  A DOE official took down my contact information but I never heard from anyone.

My position on school governance is there should be an elected Board of Education in New York City that is independent of the politicians.  Put the schools back in the hands of the people.  Why this is a radical concept is beyond me.

Our friends at the Chicago Teachers Union are making the case out there for an elected school board. I don't think anyone has to to worry about the leaders in the UFT here in New York making a similar push.

Saturday, February 28, 2015


I'm a little late to the party writing about the UFT K-8 charter school that will be shutting down in June.  NYC Educator and Ed Notes have already beat me to the punch by posting on this topic today. I can only add a little personal note to their stories since I remember the Executive Board meeting when we voted on the UFT starting a charter school. I was the sole dissenting voice that evening. 

The UFT charter school came up for a vote at the Executive Board during a time period between 2003 and 2004 when opposition caucus New Action was solidifying their alliance with the dominant Unity Caucus.  New Action's high school "opposition" representatives started going with the Unity party line on just about every topic.  The exceptions were my close friend to this day Ed Beller and me however on the subject of the UFT starting a charter school, Ed was with the leadership. Therefore, I was alone so UFT President Randi Weingarten was poised to ridicule me.

I recall vividly being called on after the usual Unity sycophants praised the charter school. I spoke out against the UFT running a charter school because we would have difficulty publically opposing the expansion of charter schools if the union was running one and money would be siphoned away from an already cash strapped public school system to charters.  Randi stopped me in mid-sentence that evening and argued that I was making an argument against private school vouchers and not charter schools but I stuck to my position. After our debate, I think I was the lone no vote. A UFT charter school was a no-win proposition.  If it succeeded, the press would see it as a victory for charter schools.  If it did not work out, it would be seen as union failure. That's what is occurring now.

Being opposed to all charter schools on principle, not just some we don't like, is a position I am quite honored to have stood up for as a lone wolf at the UFT Executive Board. 

Now that the UFT's K-8 charter school is closing, do you think Randi Weingarten will be getting in touch with me to say that maybe I had a point?  I don't think so either.

Friday, February 27, 2015


The Sergeants Benevolent Association led by President Ed Mullins has reached a tentative contract deal with the city that basically keeps in line with the pattern uniform supervisory unions set a while back.  It calls for increases of 11% over seven years.  This is 1% better than the UFT received to set a civilian pattern last year. 

The difference between the contracts for the SBA as compared to other supervisory uniform unions is in the length of the deal.  The SBA contract is for a full seven years instead of the six years and seven months that other uniform supervisors agreed to.  In exchange, the SBA will receive full retroactive pay for the entire first year. 

No waiting until 2020 for SBA members to get their full arrears unlike the UFT.

This blog said all along that part of the feud between the police unions and the mayor had to do with a lack of contracts. Ed Mullins was also incensed with UFT President Michael Mulgrew back in May for accepting a subpar pattern setting agreement that he knew would limit what he could do.

In his rush to settle a contract and set a pattern, Michael Mulgrew ended up selling everybody in municipal labor short as the city is swimming in huge surpluses mostly thanks to labor settling for tiny salary increases.

Patrick Lynch and the large Patrolmen's Benevolent Association are now basically out there alone along with the firefighters union. I can't see them doing any better under these circumstances

Thursday, February 26, 2015


A retiree source has been on the payroll portal and told me the retroactive money will be deposited into accounts on Friday, February 27, 2015. Sources updated us by telling us the money is already in accounts as of today (Thursday).

It is not surprising that the city/Department of Education held onto the money for as long as they could.  The fund to pay the retroactive payments for people who retired between November 1, 2009 and June 30, 2014 was supposed to be established "upon ratification" of the contract (June 3, 2014) but because of bungling by both the UFT and city, it was not settled until this month.

All I can say is congratulations to our retired friends!  You had to wait almost nine months to get money that has been owed to you since early June for work done as far back as 2009. Each and every retiree earned every dime that is coming your way by working in the schools.

ICEUFT blog salutes all of our retirees and wishes you many decades of healthy and happy lives.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Comptroller Scott Stringer has found an extra billion dollars over what Mayor Bill de Blasio projected in the city budget.  Are the Unity supporters still saying the cupboard was empty when we settled for 10% over 7 years and we will have our retroactive payments for 2009-2011 deferred so we won't be made whole for those years until 2020?  How much more money has to be found before Unity will admit that Michael Mulgrew did not get us the best deal possible?

Other unions also don't stay neutral when a politician goes after them. For example, the Chicago Teachers Union opposed Mayor Rahm Emanuel's reelection and their endorsed candidate, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, is now heading into a runoff with Rahm because the mayor did not get the necessary 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff.  Rahm spent millions of dollars and had President Barack Obama's endorsement. In spite of this, it was 45% to for Rahm and 34% for Chuy with other candidates getting the remainder. It still won't be easy to win but it is possible. 

Our strategy in New York is best summed up by a commenter called Raving Apologist:

 Raving Apologist said...
"Don't blame me." "It's the best we could do." "We are at war...Now, Tweet!" "We will be sitting out the 2009 Mayoral endorsement process." "We will not be endorsing anyone for the Democratic gubernatorial primary." "We have to stick together as a union."

Thanks to Harris Lirtzman for sending out the latest budget news and the Chicago results.