Academy of the City Charter ratifies new contract

Barrie Miskin, a 1st-grade lead teacher, casts her ballot.

By Rob Callaghan

Teachers and other staff at Academy of the City Charter School in Woodside, Queens, approved a new collective-bargaining agreement, which introduced class-size limits, improved the committee structure at the school, and provided educators with a 11 percent pay increase over three years. As part of the agreement, the UFT now represents school aides at the school.

“The negotiations process really brought everyone here together because we are all working toward the same goal — a great school,” said Alicia Latman, a kindergarten lead teacher and the school’s chapter leader. “The improvements in the contract will help build our school community.”

The three-year contract, which was unanimously ratified by the staff on April 28, will run from August 2015 through August 2018. It covers a staff of 31, including lead teachers, associate teachers, special education coordinators, guidance counselors and school aides at the K–4 school that will add a 5th grade in September.

Under the new contract, teachers will receive a 4 percent pay increase in the first year, 3 percent in the second year and a final 4 percent in the third year. The salary schedule, which rewards educators based on their education and experience, now has 15 steps, up from 12 in the prior contract.

The current agreement strengthens the school’s committee structure by setting aside time within the workday for the committees to meet. The committees provide an opportunity for educators to take a leadership role in their school community.

Class sizes at the school will be capped at 30 students. School-based members on the negotiating committee pressed for class-size limits so educators would have the opportunity to provide more individual attention to their students.

Teachers came together to organize a UFT chapter at Academy of the City in May 2012, a year after the school was founded. Soon after the teachers went public with their union campaign, the school’s Board of Trustees recognized the union. This is the second collective-bargaining agreement for the charter school.

Originally published in the June 4, 2015 New York Teacher issue