Bristol Federation of Teachers

Contact us at bft1464@gmail.com

BFT Happy Hours for 2017-18 — September 21, 2017

BFT Happy Hours for 2017-18

The BFT Happy Hour is an opportunity to unwind in a relaxed atmosphere with teacher colleagues across the district, while enjoying some great food and drink! With all that is going on regarding our profession, it’s also an opportunity for all Bristol teachers to strategize.

All events take place at Nuchies in Forrestville, starting at 2:30 PM, and ending at 5:30 PM.

Dates:

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday, January 26, 2018

Friday, June 1, 2018

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This Saturday – Support Candidates Who Support Labor — September 20, 2017

This Saturday – Support Candidates Who Support Labor

We are again taking to the streets of Bristol this weekend to talk to union members about what’s at stake on the ballot in November. Volunteer to “Get Out The Vote” for labor-endorsed candidates for local office who have pledged to put working peoples’ interests ahead of special interests.
Spend a few hours Saturday supporting community leaders today who will support us when we need them tomorrow:
  • WHEN: Saturday, September 23 from 8:30AM to 12:00PM.
  • WHERE: Walk is being organized from the Bristol Central Labor Chapter (CLC), located at 61 East Main Street in the Forestville section of Bristol.
  • HOW: Click here to RSVP by email to join us.

Volunteers will get training beforehand, head out in pairs, be provided a “script” and a packet of local union members in Bristol to meet with.

Join us on Saturday and help fellow union members vote for a better life this November.
In solidarity,
 
Teri Merisotis
Legislative Advocate, AFT Connecticut
Jim Vigue
Legislative Advocate, AFT Connecticut

 

Teacher Tax: Urge Malloy to Veto! — September 19, 2017

Teacher Tax: Urge Malloy to Veto!

Bristol teachers should have learned of the ‘teacher tax” contained in the GOP budget that passed earlier this week with the help of a handful of Democrats. Although Governor Malloy has said he will veto it, there will be increasing pressure for him to sign it as the October 1 deadline for ECS funding looms.

What is the “teacher tax?” Currently, all Connecticut teachers pay 6% of their salary to the Teacher Retirement Board (TRB) for their portion of retirement savings. If Governor Malloy does not veto this budget, teacher contributions will increase to 7% next year and 8 % the year after (an average of $1500 and then $3000 annually), but that additional 1% and 2% WILL NOT go into your TRB, but instead become part of the state’s general fund for expenses. In other words, a tax.

This special tax on teachers would mean most would pay state tax at a higher rate than billionaires!

Mad? Follow this link to quickly and easily contact Governor Malloy.

Here is language from the current state statute regarding teacher contributions toward retirement.

And here is the language passed earlier this week by the legislature.

Here is the relevant part:

7) “Contributions” means amounts withheld pursuant to this chapter and paid to the board by an employer from compensation payable to a member. Prior to July 1, 1989, “mandatory contributions” are contributions required to be withheld under this chapter and consist of five per cent regular contributions and “one per cent contributions”. From July 1, 1989, to June 30, 1992, “mandatory contributions” are contributions required to be withheld under this chapter and consist of five per cent regular contributions and one per cent health contributions. From July 1, 1992, to June 30, 2004, “mandatory contributions” are contributions required to be withheld under this chapter and consist of six per cent “regular contributions” and one per cent health contributions. On or after July 1, 2004, “mandatory contributions” are contributions required to be withheld under this chapter and consist of six per cent regular contributions and one and one-fourth per cent health contributions. “Voluntary contributions” are contributions by a member authorized to be withheld under section 10-183i. From January 1, 2018, to June 30, 2018, inclusive, “mandatory contributions” are contributions required to be withheld under this chapter and consist of seven per cent “regular contributions” and one and one-fourth per cent health contributions. On or after July 1, 2018, “mandatory contributions” are contributions required to be withheld under this chapter and consist of eight per cent “regular contributions” and one and one-fourth per cent health contributions.

Sec. 153. (Effective from passage) (a) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, one per cent of the amount of regular contributions required to be withheld during the period from January 1, 2018, to June 30, 2018, in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (7) of section 10-183b of the general statutes, shall be credited to the resources of the General Fund.

(b) For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, two per cent of the amount of regular contributions required to be withheld during said fiscal year, in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (7) of section 10-183b of the general statutes, shall be credited to the resources of the General Fund.

 

What the GOP Budget Would Mean to Teachers — September 17, 2017

What the GOP Budget Would Mean to Teachers

Bristol Teachers…Would you like a $1500 salary cut? How about the possibility of a permanent step freeze? No GWI/COLA, ever? If Gov. Malloy gives in to the political pressure mounted by the CT  GOP, all of that and more is in your immediate future.

Here is what happened:

In the State Senate three Democrats—Paul Doyle, Gayle Slossberg, and Joan Hartley—all voted for the Republican budget. As a result, the Republican budget proposal passed by a vote of 21 to 15.

In the House, six Democrats voted with the Republicans to adopt the Republican budget as the amended budget—Pat Boyd, John Hampton, Lonnie Reed, Kim Rose, Danny Rovero, and Cristin McCarthy Vahey (McCarthy Vahey, later switched and voted against it). It passed 77 to 73. The governor has said that he will veto the budget.

A bi-partisan budget—different than the one passed yesterday—could be a good solution for Connecticut, but only if it does not attack public education, students, teachers, and essential collective bargaining rights that protect employees.

What does it mean for education if Gov. Malloy signs?

It imposes a 2% increase in teacher contributions to the retirement fund, which would cost the average teacher $1,500 per year.

It does not impose a cost shift of teacher retirement responsibilities onto towns.

It allows towns to override arbitration decisions (like the kind that decide teacher contracts) with a 2/3rds vote of the local legislative bodies (i.e., two out of three selectman, or six out of nine city councilors).

It eliminates the Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) for municipal education support.

It allows towns to reopen collective bargaining agreements (ie teacher contracts) if education aid is reduced by 10% or more.

It requires that 15% of a town’s budget reserve shall not be considered toward a town’s ability to pay (impacts arbitration decisions)

It allows schools and towns to use adult or child volunteers for town services regardless of collective bargaining agreements.

It contains numerous provisions that transfer power from the board of education to the board of finance or mayor/board of selectmen. For example, the town (not the board of education) must authorize leases of school equipment, computers, portable classrooms, etc.; the town must approve hiring new school positions not specifically enumerated in the budget, etc.

ECS: The Republican budget restores most of Governor Malloy’s proposed ECS cuts, but cuts some large districts. Bridgeport loses $4 million, East Hartford loses $4 million, New Haven loses $3 million, and West Hartford loses $1 million.

The Republican budget also eliminates the Clean Elections Program, imposes additional labor savings while also incorporating the $1.5 billion state employee concession package negotiated by Governor Malloy, adopts the Hospital Tax expansion proposed by Malloy (where the state receives more federal reimbursement), and proposes major cuts in higher education.

It ends collective bargaining for state employee pensions, imposes changes in their pensions after 2027 (when the current labor agreement expires), and starts counting those savings in the proposed biennial budget. For example, the budget banks $270 million in savings in the next two years based on savings that are projected to occur after 2027. And that assumes that ending collective bargaining as to state employee pensions withstands a legal challenge.

These are just some of many details that stretch over 700 pages.

Again, the governor says he will veto the Republican budget, which will send the process back to the beginning, with increased leverage for Republican leadership. However, the Governor is under increasing pressure to sign the budget bill.

Click here to contact Gov. Malloy and urge him to veto this budget.

 

Hartford Courant article

AFL-CIO statement

GOP Anti-Teacher State Budget Proposal — September 12, 2017

GOP Anti-Teacher State Budget Proposal

The state GOP has unveiled their budget proposal, one that makes teachers (and other public employees) contribute more to health and retirement, guts collective bargaining rights, and allows city/town councils to override local Boards of Education decisions.

Since being released a few hours ago, CABE was the first to speak out and steadfastly oppose the proposal.

PLEASE READ and REACH OUT to your legislators.

 

You may email using cga.ct.gov “click” on Representation to email or phone numbers are below.

Senate Democrats

860 240-8600

1800-842-1420

Senate Republicans

860 240-8800

1800-842-1421

 

House Democrats
860 240-8500
1800-842-8267

 

House Republicans
860 240-8700

1800-8421423

Directly From The Republican Budget:

 

MUNICIPAL MANDATE RELIEF

 Allow municipalities to override the arbitration decisions with a 2/3 vote of local legislative bodies.

 Formation of a committee to study the funding of local services including analysis of current structure and its impact on growth and opportunity on the state and local levels. The committee may submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to finance, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes.

 Require a supermajority vote in the legislature to adopt any new unfunded mandate that has a statewide municipal impact.

 Modify section 10-157 of the CGS to allow towns with a population of less than 10,000, with less than three public schools located in their town and with less than 2,000 resident students to not have a local superintendent. Recommend allowing said small towns receive direction from another local board of education’s superintendent. The town legislative body shall make the determination that they will share a superintendent.

 Require boards of education to enter into cooperative arrangements with municipalities to provide administration and central office duties. The town legislative body shall make this determination.

 To allow for a reduction of associated expenses, allow boards of education that jointly employ a superintendent to either (1) reduce the number of meetings they individually hold or (2) hold joint meetings at least quarterly.

 Eliminate the MBR requirement for non-alliance districts.

 If ECS funding is reduced after education budgets are adopted, authorize a municipality’s legislative body to reduce education administrative budgets by the same amount without seeking a waiver from the state Department of Education and without going to referendum.

 Authorize towns to reduce education spending on administrative expenses after the budget is adopted to reflect reductions in other sources of municipal aid..

 Prohibit boards of education from entering into leases for equipment, such as phone systems, computers, portable classrooms, vehicles, and copiers without town authorization.

 Require boards of education to adhere to town purchasing procedures.

 Require boards of education to consult with towns before purchasing new payroll, and payable software systems to determine whether such purchases can be shared or purchased on a regional basis.

 Require, when timing of contracts allows, for municipal and board of education consolidation with regards to the purchase of property casualty and workers’ compensation insurance.

 Require shared maintenance of buildings, grounds, equipment and information technology between boards of educations and towns.

– Prohibit boards of education from hiring any administrative personnel for positions which are not included in the proposed and approved budget without town concurrence.

 Authorize regional school districts to establish finance boards consisting of representatives from members towns to provide input on local budget issues.

 Provide towns in regional school districts with greater oversight of collective bargaining agreements by requiring such agreements to be approved by each local governing body. Deemed approved if the contract is approved by a majority of the towns in the regional school district.

 Allow towns to reopen collective bargaining agreements to negotiate savings in the event that education aid is reduced by more than 10%.

 Allow towns to reopen collective bargaining agreements when changes are needed to effectuate consolidation or shared services agreements.

 Require decisions in the arbitration of unfair labor practices to be issued not later than 60 days after the post-hearing briefs are filed.

 Require all municipal employers and municipal employee organizations engaged in mandatory binding arbitration to complete negotiations within one year from the date that binding arbitration to complete negotiations within one year from the date that binding arbitration was imposed by the state.

 Provide for the random selection of neutral arbitrators and the use of a single neutral through an agreement of the parties in the binding arbitration process.

 Require all employment contracts with administrative personnel (and amendment, including wage modifications) to be filed with the Town Clerk, and in regional districts, all town clerks..

 Provide that 15% or less of a municipality’s budget reserve fund shall not be available for an argument towards a town’s ability to pay.

 Allow municipalities to use volunteer service provided by children and parents by prohibiting collective bargaining agreements from containing provisions prohibiting the practice.

 Increase the current prevailing wage thresholds from the current $400,000 to $1,000,000 for new construction and from $100,000 to $500,000 for remodeling and alterations. Exempt projects specific to roofing, elevators, included are all DECD funded projects.

 Create a new state bonding authorization that will be used to repay debt on a capital expense when said capital expense is a barrier to regionalization for those towns with a school population of less than 3,000 students.

 With regards to the 2018 fiscal year, for those municipalities that forecasted reduced state revenue when setting their mill rate and tax levy, said municipalities would be required to rebase their mill rate and tax levy upon actual revenue from the state as included in the adopted FY 2018 FY 2019 Biennial Budget. Any excess taxes levied by municipalities over $500,000 shall be returned to taxpayers in full in January 2018

 

Other measures include:

Repeal the local spending cap imposed under the Municipal Revenue Sharing Account.

 

Regarding school construction – require the State Department of Education to submit a report to the General Assembly on three different prototype schools. If municipalities do not pick these schools then they will get a lower reimbursement rate and the municipality must pay all architectural and engineering costs as they will no longer be reimbursable.

 

There is no municipal contribution to the Teacher Retirement System. Teachers will pay an additional 1% in January and then another 1% in July to then be at an 8% contribution.

Labor Walk to Show Union Solidarity — September 9, 2017

Labor Walk to Show Union Solidarity

The BFT will  once again joining with Connecticut’s labor movement to back candidates in the November 7 Municipal Election who will stand up for working people, not special interests. This year is unique because many are themselves union members — and they need our support to help put them over the top.
By volunteering a few hours this weekend to talk to union members in your community, you can make a real difference:
  • WHEN: Saturday, September 16 from 8:30AM to 12:00PM.
  • WHERE: Walk is being organized from the Bristol Central Labor Chapter (CLC), located at 61 East Main Street in the Forestville section of Bristol.
  • HOW: Click here to RSVP by email to join us.

Volunteers will get training beforehand, head out in pairs, be provided a “script” and a packet of local union members in Bristol to meet with. The point is to knock on the door of fellow union members and ask explain the importance of voting for union endorsed candidates. For anyone who themselves has a desire to one day run for public office, this is a great learning opportunity.

We hope you will join us next Saturday and help elect union members to help lead Bristolto a better future for working people like us.
In solidarity,
 
Dave Hayes
BFT President
Teri Merisotis
Legislative Advocate, AFT Connecticut
Jim Vigue
Legislative Advocate, AFT Connecticut
BFT Executive Council Monthly Meetings — August 30, 2017
BOE Decides to Conduct Forensic Audit — August 26, 2017

BOE Decides to Conduct Forensic Audit

Here is the Bristol Press Article.

Written by SUSAN CORICA

BRISTOL – The Board of Education is on board with the city hiring an outside firm to conduct a forensic audit to find out how a $2.4 million deficit was overlooked in the 2016-17 school budget.

Mayor Ken Cockayne and Board of Finance Chairwoman Cheryl Thibeault have said they are searching for a firm to conduct the audit for the school board’s budgets of the past two years.

Earlier in the week City Comptroller Diane Waldron had identified the $2,381,120 deficit. The board had also ended 2015-16 with an unexpected $2,044,817 deficit, related to special education costs. At that time, city officials recommended a separate fund be set up to better manage special education costs, but the school board declined.

At a special meeting Thursday, the school board’s finance committee chairwoman, Karen Vibert said all nine board members, and school district staff past and present, “own some of this and we need to find out why this has happened and fix the problem.”

“What is not helpful right now quite honestly are dramatic social media posts,” she said. “Social media can be a great venue to inform the public but inciting the public with incorrect and inaccurate information is totally unfair to those citizens, and to my fellow BOE commissioners.”

She noted that all school board members sat through the same finance committee meetings, read the same reports, heard the same comments from the three different finance professionals who have handled the district’s finances over the past two years, and were told that things were in good shape.

Gary Franzi was the district finance director until he resigned a year ago. The city’s then comptroller, Glenn Klocko, handled school finances until Stephen Nembirkow was hired last January. Nembirkow resigned as of Aug. 18. The district is now searching for Nembirkow’s replacement.

“Two years ago our then finance director did not know about this structural error. He was followed by a second finance director who also did not recognize this issue. The city auditors did not find a problem,” Vibert said.

Vibert said she and board Chairman Chris Wilson had already discussed having a forensic audit done when they heard Cockayne and the Board of Finance had the same idea.

She said the purpose of the special meeting was “to make sure that all Board of Education commissioners understand the issue and your questions are answered.”

Superintendent Ellen Solek gave a brief description of how City Comptroller Diane Waldron contacted the district central office to alert them to the problem and review the city’s findings.

Deputy Superintendent Susan Moreau described in more detail how Nembirkow in a final memo had said the district had ended 2016-17 with a $191,000 surplus, after previously saying there would be a $500,000 surplus.

“I can’t say that I have a whole lot more information now,” Moreau said. “We certainly are looking not only backward but I’m concerned about looking forward and making sure that what we have on our accounts for ’17-’18 is sufficient. It’s my concern that if we have a structural deficit, and the two deficits are almost identical from ’15-’16 and ’16-’17, that we know we’re on solid ground going forward.”

She said there were some inconsistencies shown for the school accounts in the city’s MUNIS financial software program months, but that Klocko had said they shouldn’t be concerned about it.

“I will once again say I am embarrassed, and shame on us, that I did not push the issue,” Moreau said. She noted that MUNIS spreadsheets are not easy for a layperson to read but she wants to have some workshops to help familiarize administrators and board members with them “so that we’re all aware and this can never happen again.”

Thibeault said the finance board’s target is to have bids to conduct the forensic audit by Sept. 15 and start interviewing firms after that. She invited school board members to sit in on the process and give input.

“The target date is to have [the audit firm] complete their report and have things back to us by the end of the year. It’s a tight timeframe,” she said.

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or scorica@bristolpress.com.

 

Mayor Calls for Forensic Audit of BOE Budget following $2.4 million Deficit — August 24, 2017

Mayor Calls for Forensic Audit of BOE Budget following $2.4 million Deficit

Press Release:

August 24, 2017-Bristol Mayor Ken Cockayne and Board of Finance Chairwoman Cheryl Thibeault announced today that they have asked the Purchasing Agent to prepare a Request for Proposal to conduct a Forensic Audit of The Bristol Board of Education’s budget for fiscal years 2015-16 and 2016-17. This decision comes following the City Comptroller’s Office identifying a $2,381,120 deficit for fiscal year 2016-17 and the Board of Education being completely unaware of the problem.

The Board of Education ended the 2015-16 budget year with a $2,044,817 deficit. At that time, the City’s Board of Finance, Mayor and Comptroller recommended that a separate fund be set up to better manage the special education portion of the Board of Education’s budget. The Board of Education declined to do that and instead pledged more transparency for that portion of the budget.

Chairwoman Cheryl Thibeault said “A forensic audit is an important tool so that the City can obtain a complete view of the Board of Education’s finances. We can evaluate procedures in place and make recommendations and improvements to ensure compliance and accuracy. The Audit subcommittee will evaluate proposals and present to the full Board of Finance for final approval.”

Additionally, Mayor Cockayne stated “It is frustrating from the City’s overall perspective to discover such a large deficit in the Board of Education budget and what is more troubling is that the Board of education wasn’t aware of it. We have been diligently working on several options to manage the cuts that will most likely come from the state, while minimizing any impact to the taxpayers. Now we add an additional $2.38 million to whatever the impact is of the state budget to the City of Bristol.”

City Comptroller Diane Waldron added that “The deficit was discovered while closing the financial records for the June 30, 2017 fiscal year and preparing for the year end audit.”

$2.4 million Bristol Budget Deficit — August 23, 2017