The Contract in Article 20 says the Board of Education (the official legal name for the Department of Education) will not change the salary and working conditions affecting teachers without first consulting and negotiating with the UFT. The Board looks as though it is attempting to put one over on the Union by adding an extra work day for its employees for next year or maybe the Union is their partner in this ridiculous policy change.
The DOE recently released a school calendar for 2019-20 that has a work day scheduled for Monday, December 23, 2019. Work on a Monday when Christmas Eve falls on a Tuesday is unprecedented for as far back as I can recall. The UFT is consulted on the calendar every year. When the calendar was released earlier this week, I was astounded that the UFT was not completely outraged and telling its members about how it will fight the added work day. Unfortunately, it is very possible the Union has agreed to the calendar with the DOE as a picture of the calendar is on the UFT Facebook page without any official UFT objection.
I looked through my past personal calendars for school years where Christmas Eve fell on a Tuesday to see when winter vacation started in the past. I was not at all surprised to discover that the last school day in those years was Friday, December 20. I kept personal calendars going back to 1986. School on December 23 when it falls on a Monday is a brand new DOE policy.
For those interested in looking back for years when December 23 was on a Monday, here they are.
2013-2014-Last school day before winter vacation: Friday, December 20, 2013
Monday, December 23, 2013: No School
2002-2003-Last school day before winter vacation: Friday, December 20, 2002
Monday, December 23, 2002: No school
1996-1997-Last school day before winter vacation: Friday, December 20, 1996
Monday, December 23, 1996: No School
1991-1992-Last school day before winter vacation: Friday, December 20, 1991
Monday, December 23, 1991: No school
Why this extra day? The answer cannot be that there are not enough legal school days on the calendar. In fact, the calendar has plenty of extra days since Eid is in August and the Lunar New Year is on the weekend next school year so legally there are sufficient teaching days for full state aid.
Just to be sure the calendar is long enough without December 23, I counted the school days for 2019-2020. Teachers will be working a total of 186 days in the 2019-2020 school year. Since four days are allowed for conferencing, we are over the state law for a minimum of 180 school days where the schools receive state aid. Having December 23 off would not cause a problem with the state.
The answer also cannot be to further instruction. A single day of school on December 23 will be of little or no educational value and I gather just about every school district in the Western world will be off that day.
In reality, the UFT was either asleep at the switch and allowed the Board to pull a fast one on the calendar or the DOE is unilaterally adding the extra day which should be grieved immediately and loudly if the DOE does not relent.
Can someone in authority please raise this? That would mean you Arthur Goldstein or you Mike Schirtzer or you Jonathan Halabi or any of the other Executive Board reps.
UPDATE September 24, 2019
After the pressure the rank and file as well as parents exerted, the UFT kept the issue alive and the DOE has school has changed the calendar so school is now closed for Monday, December 23, 2019.
Here is a link to the updated calendar and one to our latest blog post.