Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for August 24, 1998
Back-To-School Specials . . .

First of all, let me say "Welcome Back!" to our returning staff. I hope that your summer was enjoyable and that you enter the new school year with renewed energy!

To the newcomers in our midst, "Welcome Aboard!" The Association hopes that your experiences in the Cairo Public Schools will be both rewarding and enjoyable. We are pleased that you have chosen to share with us your educational expertise. We are always ready to answer any questions you may have and lend our support when you need it. All you have to do is ask ! Building representatives/officers for the 1998-99 School Year are: Karla Patton (CAT Secretary--Emerson), Ledora Beard (CAT Treasurer--Bennett), Deborah Hammel (CAT Vice President--CJHS), Jackie Phillips (CHS), and Ron Newell (CAT President--CHS).

New Superintendent

On behalf of the Cairo Association of Teachers, I would like to officially welcome Dr. Robert L. Isom to Cairo. As you have already learned, he brings with him a wealth of experience and has expressed his desire to work closely WITH us to improve the educational climate in the Cairo Public Schools. From my limited experience since he has come on board, I can say that we are off to a good working relationship. He was faced with the monumental task of hiring 20 new personnel in his first month on the job, but I think you will agree that school opened as smoothly as ever. As Dr. Isom gets to know us and the job that we do day in and day out, I think that he will find that he made an excellent choice when he decided to come to Cairo.

2.2 Upgrade

Do not forget to notify the Illinois Teachers Retirement System (TRS) if you plan to upgrade your years of service so that you can retire in 34 years at full pension instead of 38 years. The deadline for "locking in" your salary for the 1996-97 School Year (which for most employees will be your lowest--and cheapest) is September 15, 1998. You must obtain an application from TRS, complete it, and return it by the aforementioned deadline. IF you will teach 20 more years before you retire, you do NOT have to do anything. IF you plan to teach a total of 38 years, you do NOT have to do anything.

IEA Credit Union

Any employee who wishes to join the IEA Credit Union should obtain the proper forms, complete them, and send them to the District payroll department during the first month of school. Forms are available from Ron Newell. Any current member who wishes to change the amount being deducted for the credit union must also notify the payroll department during this first month (or the first month of the second semester).

Horizontal Movement on Salary Schedule

If you have earned additional college credit since last school year that would allow you to move horizontally on the salary schedule (B.S.+16, M.S., or M.S.+16), you must verify this to the District payroll department by "official transcript, with seal affixed." There is no deadline for this action, but you will not receive your increase until it is done.

Petty Cash

Several of you took advantage of new contract language last year and bought "consumable materials" for your classroom and were reimbursed--up to $100. Since a new school year has begun, you again have that opportunity. If you purchased things this summer--and still have the receipt--you can be reimbursed. You may make new purchases during this year. Remember: The District asks that you submit receipts for reimbursement ONE TIME ONLY each year. So wait until you have $100 worth--or until you know that you will buy no more. A completed purchase order (made payable to you!) must accompany your receipts. If you have questions, ask your office personnel.

Sick/Personal Days

Section 3.7 of the Contractual Agreement states that each member of the bargaining unit is to be provided with a statement on the first day of each school year that indicates the total number of sick leave days available to (be taken by) the teacher for that particular school year. Be sure to check your records and verify that the numbers are correct. REMINDER : Each teacher gets 11 sick days each year plus two personal days. You may also "buy" an additional day at substitute teacher pay ( IF a substitute teacher is actually used) in the event of an emergency. Also: "Personal days" are just that--personal. You do NOT have to give a reason for a personal day . Just fill out the form and turn it in to your principal or his/her designee with as much notice as possible. (On occasion, the paperwork has even been done AFTER THE FACT when it was an emergency that arose unexpectedly.) ALSO: THERE ARE NO RESTRICTIONS AS TO WHEN YOU CAN TAKE PERSONAL LEAVE!!! We did away with the "first two weeks, last two weeks, Fridays", etc. during negotiations. Finally, on this topic, you may give another employee of the District (certified or noncertified) one or more of your sick days if they run out and you feel so inclined. Simply notify the central office in writing.

Paycheck Mailed to Bank

If you wish to have your paycheck mailed directly to your bank, you must send a written request to the payroll department no later than SEPTEMBER 10 . The District should send you a form for that purpose.

Class Size

Reminder : When the enrollment of any self-contained elementary classroom or any academic secondary classroom exceeds thirty (30) students, the teacher shall notify his/her immediate supervisor in writing. BE SURE TO DO THIS! Also notify your building representative! By "enrollment", it means that the 31st student has actually walked through your door for which you are accountable! All 31 students do NOT have to be present on any given day. Special Education teachers should do the same thing if their enrollment exceeds the limits mandated by state and/or federal law.

Dispensing of Medicine

In a word: "DON'T!" Do NOT store medicine in your room and do NOT administer medication--including aspirin--under any circumstances. Medication is to be administered ONLY by a school nurse or an administrator.

Internal Substitution

Taking someone else's class during your preparation period is VOLUNTARY . If you choose to do so, you are to be compensated at the rate of $20 per period--or any fraction thereof. If you supervise another teacher's students in addition to your own, then you are to be compensated at the aforementioned internal substitution rate--$20 for each additional teacher's students.

Christmas Bonus

We have not yet heard any word on the extra money that Cairo School District Number One is to receive this year above-and-beyond the State aid allotment of last year. I have asked, and the figures are not yet available. When I get word, I will pass it on to you! As a reminder to returning staff and as information to new employees, any additional monies received by the District will provide the basis for two bonuses to be paid during the year in addition to the amounts shown on the salary schedule--one on the second check in December and the other on the first check in June. (See Section 4.1 of the Contractual Agreement.)

Membership Materials

Sometime this week--MAYBE TODAY--you will receive your NEA/IEA/CAT membership materials for the 1998-99 School Year. One new item this year is an Association CD-ROM. Those of you who have access to a computer and are computer literate will be able to peruse various information and membership services. If you lack the aforementioned prerequisites, go find/bribe your friendly computer guru!

A Final Word . . .

I have tried to cover a variety of items pertaining to the beginning of school. Many of these were of a contractual nature. Obviously, I cannot cover the entire contract in a newsletter. BUT --Each of you received a copy of our new contract last April. This contract governs many important facets of your daily work-life until August 2001! PLEASE -- READ your Contract and familiarize yourself with it. Many complaints that I have received from bargaining unit members in the past should NOT have been happening. The actions were in direct violation of the contract! BUT--THE MEMBER DID NOT KNOW !!! The Association can only enforce the contract for ALL employees if EACH employee knows the contract and insists upon its enforcement. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO "FIGHT" THE ADMINISTRATION ABOUT THE VIOLATION--SOMETIMES THEY DID NOT KNOW EITHER . If you are comfortable with bringing the matter to the attention of your immediate supervisor, ask him/her about it. If you are not, PLEASE notify your building representative. A lot of long hours and hard work went into negotiating our current contract. Do not give away these hard-fought gains.