The President's Message

As we continue to navigate an ever-changing landscape, FUSE continues to work cooperatively with central administration. FUSE and the district have agreed to the following:

  • Wednesdays are teacher-driven for planning, professional development, collaboration with colleagues, etc. While administrators could and should provide a variety of professional development opportunities, these would be optional based on individual needs and self-direction. Attendance cannot be required.

  • Testing conducted by distinct nurses (sites and protocols to be determined)

  • Proper notification regarding positive cases that ensures member privacy.

  • Appropriate times for staff to be notified regarding school closure, school reopening, positive and negative cases.  School closure notification should be made as soon as possible, without limit, to ensure safety.

  • Scheduled and ongoing meetings with central administration.

  • Weekly positivity rates. (link to spreadsheet)

  • Modifications of the schedules for remote learning (elementary, middle, and high school).

  • Ability to work remotely when building entry is denied due to health questionnaire responses.

  • Health questionnaire for students will now be sent and must be answered daily

  • FUSE continues to believe and advocate that remote learning is the safest instructional model during the current COVID-19 surge throughout the community.   In this regard, FUSE has provided numerous scientific studies and articles that clearly substantiate our position. These were shared with the central administration and Board of Education in a letter linked here. Since that time numerous other studies have been published. They include but are not limited to, the following:  

Largest COVID-19 contact tracing study to date finds children key to spread, evidence of superspreaders (princeton.edu)

 

https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-12-02/shut-them-down-why-schools-might-not-be-safe-during-covid-19

 

https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/526370-cdc-quietly-removes-guidance-pushing-for-school-reopenings

22% of positive elementary school students are ‘silent carriers,’ data shows by Adam Poulisse 

 

FUSE has worked closely with the central administration on ensuring that staff would have the ability to choose to be tested at school, by their own physician, or at a local testing site.  FUSE has requested and awaits clarification from central administration regarding the testing consent form sent on Friday, December 12.  

In closing, the holidays are upon us, and many families and staff may be traveling during the holiday break. It is imperative that all answer the daily health screening accurately and honestly to reduce potential spread. In this regard, FUSE continues to advocate for a holiday pause for all.

APPR Update

Included in the Remote Learning Agreement signed by FUSE and the district, it was negotiated that all observations must be done in-person, unless the teacher will be fully remote due to medical accommodation.   Therefore, unannounced informal evaluations can begin for staff who are teaching in the buildings, which includes grades K-3 and some special education classes.  Secondary schools can begin upon re-entry in January.   Recently, FUSE and the district have begun negotiations involving our current APPR agreement.  Updates will be forthcoming

Negotiations Update

FUSE had declared an impasse in July.  The mediator recommended that both parties return to the bargaining table in an effort to reach a multi-year agreement.   FUSE has been working tirelessly to achieve this goal. 

 

The support of the action committee and our members’ participation has proved invaluable.  Our members’ voices have been heard throughout New Rochelle and enlightened families and the larger community.  FUSE members’ dedication has provided stability and consistent educational opportunities for all our students.  This is even more impressive given that this has been done during an ongoing pandemic and despite multiple years of a revolving door of central administrators.  FUSE looks forward to your continued participation in all actions.  FUSE expects to have additional updates soon.

VOTE-COPE

Our annual VOTE-COPE drive is underway. Thank you to all those who have already submitted their updated VOTE-COPE forms! 

VOTE-COPE is NYSUT’s political action fund. It exists to strengthen the political influence wielded by NYSUT and its affiliated locals. Through VOTE-COPE, NYSUT supports candidates and political committees whose philosophies and actions are consistent with NYSUT’s goals.

  • VOTE-COPE dollars buy print, radio and TV ads, pay for phone banks and mailers and allow us to make direct contributions to campaign committees.

  • VOTE-COPE dollars are used to work against powerful forces trying to remove tenure, reduce our pensions, reduce our salaries and benefits, and slash aid to public schools.

  • VOTE-COPE dollars are used to safeguard the Triborough law which protects our members in the event that we cannot agree on a contract in a negotiating year.  It maintains the existing contract and its benefits. This is especially important to FUSE now, as we are working without a current contract.

  • VOTE-COPE contributions are returned to FUSE local at between 20-40% of our local’s contributions, which have allowed us to fund OPT-OUT action, FUSE Friday Actions, t-shirts, hats, etc.

Please consider supporting NYSUT’s efforts through a VOTE-COPE payroll deduction. If you already contribute, please consider increasing your deduction. Download, save, and forward the completed form linked here to mbreslin@nredlearn.com by December 18.  Every dollar counts! 



Stacey Braun Financial Counseling

Our members have access to financial counseling through Stacey Braun Associates.  They have provided several seminars to members to help them take care of their financial health.  Videos of those seminars can be found on the website.  Please take the time to check these videos out for the good advice they offer. Also, consider making an appointment with Stacey Braun for individual financial counseling free of charge. 

To find out more and view the Stacey Braun video seminars, click on the link.   

Meet a Member

Building our strength means knowing one another. We work in different buildings under different titles, but we are all FUSE.  With each newsletter, we hope to introduce a member and celebrate each other.

Janei Foster
Principal Clerk, City Hall

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Are you from NewRochelle? If not where are you from?

I am from New Rochelle, born and raised. I went to Daniel Webster.  I left and went to Davis for 5th grade TAG. But then I went to Albert Leonard which was great because it was the same feeder school, so I got back with all my friends from Webster.  Then I went from Albert Leonard to New Rochelle High School and then college.  I was a track and field athlete for 14 years.  I was a shot-putter. I got a full scholarship to college. I was a state record holder, all American, all county, and a New Rochelle record holder for many, many years.  My coach has been trying to get me on the Hall of Fame wall down at City Hall.  He has put my name in several times... and every year he is going to keep trying because they don’t have anyone who did my event on the wall.  Maybe It will be like the artist that doesn’t get famous until they die. I’ll probably get on the wall when I’m 70. (laughs) Anyone can nominate someone, but my coach has love and respect for his athletes which is why he keeps trying every year. I think that one year…. It may happen.

Where did you go to college?

I went to college at Morgan State University in Baltimore.  I've been back in New Rochelle for 16 years now and working for the district for 14 and a half.

What are some of your responsibilities as a principal clerk?

The title of principal clerk is weird because the title makes you think that we all work for principals at the schools, but principal clerks all do different work.  So it’s really hard to say… Some of the common things are that all principal clerks are responsible for submitting contracts, managing their director’s calendar, and submitting requisitions through Nvision. (our finance software).  We order supplies for the department or school.  A principal clerk is like the administrative assistant for the director of a department, school, principal, or assistant superintendent. They are not managers of the department, but they're normally the go-to person… 

What is a serious issue facing someone in your position today?

It never seems like there’s a chance for upward mobility. In civil service, everything is based on a grade; for every job, you have to take a test for it… although the test never ever.. Ever… EVER.. matches the job that you’re doing.  The questions are so outdated that you’ll never be in that situation. 

Sometimes I feel like saying… the work I do doesn’t speak for itself that I have to take a test to move up a grade for a better paying position? It would be nice to just get a promotion without a test because you produce great work, work hard, or mainly just because you deserve it. 

There have been a lot of new people in Central administration over the years. How has that impacted you?

It’s a challenge. A lot of people come in new and are often left to just figure it out.  I'm always willing to help if I have the time to help.  I'm the kind of person who will walk someone through something if they need it you know and I will try to find the time to do that for a person. But it’s always changing up here, and it’s about to change again…. so… 

Dr. Marrero as acting Superintendent is a recent change...

I was working directly for him when the change happened. It was funny because I happened to read his bio, and I noticed that he had his degree in business administration.  So, I went into his office and I said, I see you have a degree in business administration. I also have a degree in business administration. Maybe when I grow up I can be a superintendent too, and I laughed. 

I know it caught him off guard.  And he was like well...well.

And then I said... No. I’m just joking with you. But only about the ‘when I grow up’ part.. Because I honestly think I’m older than you.  But, please don’t make me age myself.

And we laughed.

But the thing is that I was also saying something….

When I said that, he said “Yeah, yeah you can…," and that was nice. He gets it. 

But not everybody gets it. Some people see me out here at this desk and not in an office behind a closed door and they think the smarter person..the person with that degree will be behind the closed door.  But, sometimes they need to dive a little deeper.… There are a lot of smart people around. Some of them are at that desk right in front of you.  

And that’s the other thing… A lot of people think you can’t talk to a superintendent. They feel almost that a superintendent is at a level that is untouchable. Like they are in a glass box.. as if to say Do not open; do not tap on the glass… unless I smile at you and crack the window... 

 I’ve never been afraid to speak to someone and get a feel for them as a person.  We’re all just people. So, I’m not afraid to knock on a door or crack a joke. 

That’s the kind of person I am.. I’ll crack the joke. Not everyone is going to do that.  

I love how you just talk to people and say what you want. 

The hard part of being a black woman is being a strong, confident black woman because some people are not able to take to it. So, sometimes it feels like I have to diminish who I am personally and what has been raised and instilled in me because I never want it to come across too strong or come across as aggressive to someone because I’m not afraid and I don’t walk around with my tail tucked between my legs and my head down. I’m not afraid to ask an “important” person a question or crack a joke. But,  that’s the hard part of being the person that you want to put out there…  for some people, it’s going to be like Go Janei. Yes! That’s what I’m talking about, but… maybe not for everyone.

Strong women are great though!

The funny thing is that in the last few years, I’ve been asked several times to become a building rep or that I should run for SRP Vice President… Janei, please become a union rep…. Please run.. You should run for the union because you could be that voice. Or they will come to me because they know I’m not afraid to ask the questions of HR, the Union, or an administrator. 

Are you thinking about running for building rep now?

When I think about being a building rep… it’s because at City Hall you sometimes see other employees come in for meetings with a union rep.. possibly coming in to lose their job. I’ve seen them cry. It hurts to see people lose their jobs.  

Unfortunately, where I sit, I see them waiting… Normally they are sitting there with their union rep, waiting for a meeting with HR and Civil Service. Sometimes there are lawyers for both sides, and it’s normally never good. You know they are not there because they are getting more money or a promotion. It sometimes sucks not to be able to be the person who can help. If I was a union rep, I would be one of the people going in with them and fighting for them 

But, for the past few years, I haven’t had the time in my life to do it. I have a daughter in 7th grade at IEYMS and a son who is a junior in college. I just got married on October 15. And now, the pandemic. So there has been a lot going on. 

You just got married? Congratulations!

We were supposed to get married next year on a date very special to my heart… 4-3-21, but since we had minimum restrictions in October, we thought maybe we better just do it now. I’m an excellent party planner. I told you I like organizing stuff. So, I planned my wedding in three weeks. A good friend of ours is Judge Jared Rice, and he married us. I planned it at Five Islands and prayed for good weather. And it just so happened that was the week that the tornado came.. And that Thursday, on October 15, 2020, we got lucky. It was the only nice day. 

I know I talk a lot…. I think I’ve probably answered a lot of your questions.. 

You don’t even need the questions.

Free-form interview. (laughs)



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