Here, in a “Q & A” format, is an abridged version of our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA or contract) with the San Mateo Union High School District (SMUHSD). The contract is a very important document. It is important that you become familiar with it. However, because it is not easily read, and, as a new teacher, you have many other pressing concerns, we have selected what we feel are the most important parts for you to know. For more detailed or specific understanding, you will have to go directly to the source. An “e-copy” of the contract is available on the SMUHSD website.  


While we are providing you with information to empower you with respect to your rights as an employee, remember that your goal is to develop a positive professional relationship with fellow members and with your administrators. In all aspects of the contract, asserting your rights should not take the form of insubordination. Please also refer to your CTA Member Benefits Handbook. 


What should I do if an administrator calls me into a meeting? (Section 3.6)
The administrator is required to inform you as to the subject of the meeting. It is also simply a professional courtesy for the administrator to tell you why the meeting is taking place. 

You have the right to representation at any meeting. If the subject of the meeting is something that could result in disciplinary action – likely due to a parent complaint – then the administrator is required to notify you of this right.  In the event that this happens to you – and it can and does happen to even the best teachers – it is critical that you contact your SMUHSDTA representative before explaining your version of events to an administrator.  Although any SMUHSDTA member may serve as your representative, the most obvious choice is your Building President. It is absolutely critical that you have a witness/advocate at the meeting.  Many competent and confident teachers naively fail to seek representation in these situations only to regret that choice later

What should I do if an administrator violates, misapplies, or misinterprets the contract to my detriment? (Article 5) 
Politely point out the mistake to the administrator. If he/she maintains his/her position, then do as you have been instructed and speak to your SMUHSDTA representative immediately. Your representative can be any SMUHSDTA member who is not party to the dispute. With the aid of your representative, try to resolve the problem during an informal conference with the administrator. If you are unsuccessful, then consult your Building President for advice/guidance on filing a written grievance. A written grievance must be filed within 20 days of when you should have reasonably known of the contract violation. 

What will happen to me if I file a grievance? (Section 5.9.1) 
NOTHING – No reprisals shall be taken against you for participating in the grievance process. 

Do I have to attend Professional Development (PD) Days? (Article 7) 
YES – There are two (2) required PD Days for the 2013-2014 work year. The dates of the 2013-2014 PD Days are Monday, October 14, 2013 and Monday, March 10, 2014. These days are to be planned cooperatively by the administration and teachers.  

What is the maximum class size? (Sections 8.2 & 8.6)
The maximum class sizes are as follows: 

   a) 35 students in a regular education class, 28 @ Peninsula HS 

   b) 45 students in a PE class, 30 @ Peninsula HS 

   c) 48 students in an instrumental or vocal music class 


What is the overall maximum student load for all of my classes? (Sections 8.2 & 8.6) 
The maximum student load is 168 for regular ed, 220 for PE, and 130 for all PHS. 

What should I do if one or more of my classes or my total student load exceed(s) this/these maximum(s)? (Section 8.5) 
The administration has until the third Friday of each semester to comply with these class size maximums.  If your class size or student load exceeds the applicable maximum after this date, PLEASE contact your Building President so that the Association may file a grievance. 

What should I NOT do if my class exceeds the maximum? 
Do NOT volunteer to accept an oversized class. 
Do NOT provide administrators or counselors with any “ranking” (grades, etc.) of students. 
Do NOT provide any comment regarding students who could/should be dropped. 
Do NOT sacrifice a manageable class load or expose yourself to parent/admin complaints.  Your principal is solely responsible for these decisions. 

What is my prep period? (Section 9.1.5) 
You have one prep period per day or its equivalent for preparation for teaching, collaboration, or other professional activities.  If your site operates on a “block” schedule, you may have a double prep period one day and no prep period the next. Part-time employees have as many prep periods or the equivalent per week as they teach periods per day. 

What can interfere with my prep period? (Section 9.1.5.3)
Except for emergencies, your prep period should be considered YOUR time to use as YOU deem necessary in order for YOU to do YOUR job

What requests might be made that may interfere with my prep period? 
From our experience, there seem to be four categories of activities for which you may be asked to give up your prep period. 

     1. Coverage of another class


An administrator may direct you to use your prep to cover a class only if 

                   a. it is an emergency or unforeseen event and 

                   b. no one else has volunteered. As a practical matter, administrative staff should be utilized when available. 

     2. Prep period faculty meetings called by the administration


Administrators may sometimes hold prep period meetings. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ATTEND. However, the administration can require you to attend an after school meeting. So, it is your choice.  


     3. Attendance at an IEP meeting


An IEP is an Individual Education Plan for special education students. You may be required to attend an IEP meeting. However, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ATTEND during your prep period.  


     4. Some kind of committee/planning or work on some school wide effort  


Again, you DO NOT HAVE TO ATTEND during your prep period. 


The SMUHSDTA position is that teacher discretion over the use of the prep period is inviolable. You should give up your prep only if it is required or if, in your opinion, doing so will improve your teaching or foster your professional relationships at school. SMUHSDTA suggests collaboration with and/or observation of fellow teachers whenever possible.

What is a Professional Responsibility Period (PRP)? (Section 9.1.5) 
As a result of the 7-Period Day, full-time teachers will have one non-teaching period per day (in addition to their prep period). The PRP is similar to the prep period with the following exception. On an equitable and rotating basis, no more than ten (10) of your PRPs per school year may be assigned for attending IEPs and monitoring AP or state-mandated test administration

When do I have to be at school? (Article 9) 
  1. Your regular scheduled workday is seven and one-half (7.5) hours including a thirty (30) minute (minimum) duty-free lunch and at least fifteen (15) minutes on your school site or at your workstation before your assigned classes or the school day begins
  2. You are expected to be on site during lunch, your prep period, and any other non-teaching period.  You must notify an administrator or the admin assistant if you leave campus during the workday

What kind of meetings, and supervisory or other duties am I responsible for? (Section 9.5) 
You have to be available for some extra duties. However, these non-instructional, co-curricular assignments are to be made equitably. Schools typically assign co-curricular duties at the beginning of the year in a manner that provides for equitable distribution of assignments.  If you feel that you are being asked to do more than your share of co-curricular duties, then contact your Building President. 

Will I ever be paid for fulfilling supervisory duties? (Section 9.5) 
Yes. If it is an event that generates a fee (often a basketball or football game) and commences more than two hours after the school day ends, then you will receive a $25 stipend. 

Will I have supervisory duties on Saturday, Sunday, or holidays? (Section 9.5) 
These non-workday assignments are made only by mutual agreement. You are not required to accept non-workday assignments.  

Can I volunteer to supervise activities outside of my normal teaching schedule? 
Yes. Sponsoring a club, advising a class, etc. can be very rewarding. However, do not overextend yourself or burn out. It is probably wise, in your first year, to limit or avoid these activities. 

What kind of lunch break do I have? (Section 9.6)
You will have an uninterrupted, duty-free lunch break of at least thirty (30) minutes. Like your prep period, your lunch is your time. Many teachers sometimes give up their lunch period for clubs, make-up work, tutoring, meetings, etc. While this is your choice, all of these activities are strictly voluntary. 

What salary will I receive? (Article 10) 
Your salary is based on your step & column placement on the salary schedule. This placement is based on experience and salary credit units. You may also receive a stipend for a masters degree, Ph.D., coaching, or some other activity. 

How do I know I’m getting paid the proper amount?
When you receive your paycheck, make sure your gross earnings are the proper percentage of your annual salary as indicated on the salary schedule. If you are receiving stipend, be sure to factor that in.  Also, keep copies of all variable pay time-sheets you fill out to compare them to your paycheck. 

What do I do if my paycheck is wrong? 
Call the certificated payroll department at the District Office. (650.558.2236) 

When and how is the salary schedule determined? (Article 10, Article 22) 
The SMUHSDTA Bargaining Team represents you. The team consists of one SMUHSDTA member from each school site. The Bargaining Team meets with District representatives to negotiate the terms of the contract. The first year of a two-year agreement ended in June 2013. The Association and District bargaining teams are in the process of negotiating limited provisions for the second year of the contract (2013-2014), including salary and health & welfare benefits. Watch and listen for updates. 

How do I move to a new column on the salary schedule? (Sections 10.4 & 10.5) 
  1. Completing approved college courses at an accredited institution;  
  2. Attending approved workshops that address appropriate topics relating to your teaching field or assignment. These workshops or conferences can be sponsored by the District, San Mateo County Office of Education, or other accredited educational institutions or professional organizations, including NEA, CTA, and SMUHSDTA. Fifteen cumulative hours of workshop attendance shall equal one (1) semester unit of credit. Of the fifteen (15) units required to move from one column to the next, only six (6) may be counted from workshop attendance. Workshop salary credit granted by SMUHSD may not be transferrable to other districts.  
  3. Work experience – refer to contract language or contact the Association office if you are interested.  

How do I receive salary credit for courses, workshops, or work experience? (Sections 10.4 & 10.5)
You must obtain pre-approval for each course, workshop, and work experience by completing and submitting the District pre-approval form​.  Upon completing courses you must submit transcripts. For workshops you must submit a copy of the workshop agenda and verification of the hours you attended. For work experience you must submit a typewritten final report. In some cases you may be able to receive credit without pre-approval by submitting the necessary paperwork afterward, but credit is only guaranteed if you receive approval in advance. 

NOTE: The District will NOT grant salary credit for any activity for which it provides compensation in the form of release time, stipends, reimbursements, registration fees, etc. 

When will a change in column placement take place? (Section 10.4.6) 
Changes in salary classification shall be made once each year, not later than October 31​.  If the approved work is completed by September 30 and all verification (transcripts, agendas, hours, reports, etc.) is submitted by October 31, then the change in salary classification will take place no later than October 31 and be effective retroactively. If the approved work is completed and/or verified after October 31, then the change in salary classification will occur the following school year. 

Are there other ways to make money throughout the year? (Section 10.1.7) 
Yes. If you are hired to teach summer school, then you will receive compensation at the negotiated hourly rate (currently $50/hr). Also, many workshops and opportunities for curriculum and professional development are offered throughout the year at the workshop rate (currently $ 32.69/hr). To determine if you are eligible for a stipend, refer to Appendix B or C of the contract. There are also frequent opportunities to earn money supervising sporting events, proctoring SAT tests, etc. 

Will I receive full health and welfare benefits (HWB)? (Section 11.1) 
Yes.  All full-time employees currently receive full Medical coverage up to the cost of 2013 HealthNet HMO for all levels (Employee, Employee+1, & Family). All employees also currently receive full Dental coverage (Delta Dental) and full Vision coverage (VSP) at all levels. Part-time employees (≥60%) receive prorated contributions for HWB premiums. Dental and Vision plans and premiums are renewed on October 1. Medical plans and premiums are renewed on January 1. Watch for information regarding 2014 HWB open enrollment/renewal. 

What is an IRC 125 plan? (Section 11.1.6) 
“IRC 125” refers to the Internal Revenue Code, Section 125. This code provides a method to pay for dependent care and out-of-pocket HWB costs with pre-tax dollars. In most cases this can save you money (in the form of a lower tax liability), especially if you can accurately estimate what those costs will be in advance. Watch for information regarding IRC 125 open enrollment. If you have additional questions, then contact the Association office or District Human Resources department.  

How many days may I be absent from school each year for approved reasons without losing pay? (How much sick leave do I receive annually?) (Section 12.2) 
Employees are entitled to ten (10) days of leave for illness each school year, accumulative indefinitely. Do not abuse your leave entitlement. Do not carelessly use them all up. But also don’t hoard your days and come to school when you are sick or mentally exhausted. Accumulated sick leave days also count as creditable service with STRS toward your retirement benefit

What are approved reasons for being absent from school? (Article 12) 
Approved absence reasons include illness, jury duty, court appearances under a subpoena, military reserve training, catastrophe, school business, and personal necessity. What is school business? School Business may include planning or conference work approved by a site or district administrator and paid for by the District. School business absences DO NOT count against your sick leave

What is personal necessity (PN)? (Section 12.8) 
   A) Death or serious illness of a member of your family. (e.g. a child’s illness) 
   B) An accident involving your property or family
        For the two reasons above, you may use as much sick leave as you have accumulated. 

   C) PN with pre-approval from the principal for up to seven (7) days of your sick leave may include
  1. Adoption proceedings 
  2. Religious holidays (notification only, no pre-approval required) 
  3. Graduation ceremonies for immediate family members 
  4. Court appearance as a litigant. 
  5. Participation in children’s school/daycare activities (not to exceed 40 hr/yr or 8 hr/mo)  

In addition, each year you are entitled to use up to 4 days of your leave for personal business, without having to explain anything to the District outside of stating “compelling personal importance."

What happens if someone in my family dies? (Section 12.5) 
If someone from your immediate family dies, you are entitled to three (3) days of leave for bereavement that is not counted against your sick leave

Who’s in my immediate family? 
Members of the immediate family include the mother, father, brother, sister, grandmother or grandfather, grandchild, son, daughter, and step parents of the employee or of the spouse/domestic partner of the employee and the spouse/domestic partner, son-in-law or daughter-in-law of the employee, or any relative living in the immediate household of the employee.  If the death is a spouse or child or if travel beyond three hundred (300) miles is required, you will receive an additional two (2) days of bereavement leave. 

What happens if I exceed my allotted sick leave? 
For each absence in excess of your allotted or accumulated sick leave, the District may deduct you your per diem (daily) pay from your monthly warrant. That amount is equivalent to 1/185 of your annual salary. However, if you must exceed your limit due to injury or disability, you may be entitled to differential pay or workers compensation. Please contact the Association if you face this situation. 

How long must I be out before I need to give the District a doctor’s note? (Section 12.1.3) 
Verification must be provided for an absence of more than five (5) days. The District may also request proof of absence after three (3) days

Can I use sick leave for taking a family trip or for other non-approved reasons? 
NO. If you falsify your attendance statement you may be disciplined (or fired!) and/or lose pay. That said, if you notify the District in advance, you may receive permission. 

What’s the Catastrophic Leave Bank? (Section 12.19)
The Catastrophic Leave Bank is a bank of sick days contributed by members of the bargaining unit for use by a member who has a long-term, incapacitating illness or injury that would create a financial hardship and who has exhausted all of his or her sick leave.  In essence, a member may receive sick days donated by other members. To receive days from the bank, two conditions must be met. 
  1. You must be eligible (see below); 
  2. The joint Association-District Catastrophic Leave Bank Committee must approve the request. Not all requests are approved. 

How do I become eligible for the Catastrophic Leave Bank? (Section 12.19) 
In order to participate, you must contribute one (1) of your sick leave days within 30 calendar days of employment AND contribute one (1) day during any subsequent open enrollment period(s). The Human Resources department should have informed you of this option when you were hired. If you were NOT informed of this option, please contact the Association office immediately. 

Now that I know what leaves are, what do I do if I need to be absent? (Section 12.1.2) 
It is your responsibility to notify the District of an absence. Do this online through the District’s substitute management system. You will receive information from the District/site administration regarding login information. If you have problems with this system, contact the District Office (558-2240). If the absence is for school business, you will also need to fill out a pre-approval request beforehand. Forms are available from the administrative assistant at each school. 

What do I do if my assignment seems unfair? (Section 13.4) 
First, contact your Building President. The contract ensures that efforts will be made to achieve equitable distribution of assignments among similarly situated employees. As a practical matter, accepting an unreasonable assignment could lead to burnout and/or inferior performance that could result in your being non-reelected.  

Who will evaluate me? (Article 14)
Your evaluator will be a site administrator.  While being evaluated by an administrator is the contractual requirement, we encourage you to collaborate with your fellow teachers. 

How often will I be observed? (Article 14) 
Your evaluation will include at least two full-period observations, one of which may be a drop-in observation. On what criteria will I be evaluated?

What is the process and timeline? (Article 14) 
You will be evaluated using rubrics based on the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP). A description of the evaluation process and contract language will be printed in the contract. In addition, you will receive or be able to access (on-line) a complete evaluation handbook including rubrics and forms and may have opportunities for staff development. 

This year, 2013-2014, the joint association/district evaluation committee will conduct a pilot of a new evaluation system that is the result of a year of review and redesign. Based on the results of the pilot which will involve a few members at each school, a report and recommendation will be presented to the negotiating teams for review. Contact your Building President if you are interested in this process. 

How are Department Chairpersons selected? (Article 20) 
Department Chairpersons are selected every other year through an interview process. They are then evaluated annually. When the Department Chair position is available, the position is posted throughout the district. A committee made up of the principal, the principal’s appointee, and member(s) of the department will interview candidates. 

What records should I keep? 
For your own benefit and planning and to have accurate records at your side if a dispute arises with the District, we recommend that you keep a personal file that includes at least the following

  1. Your credential and all other certificates 
  2. A copy of your college transcript and all units you earn while teaching 
  3. Your letter of hire and any other contracts you’ve signed 
  4. A log of all the time you spend engaged in professional development activities… Include dates, time, hours, and topics. 
  5. All of your itemized paycheck information 
  6. All of your variable timesheets 
  7. Notification from the District of your salary placement, seniority date, number of sick days, etc. 
  8. Copies of all correspondence with administration
  9. Evaluation documents
  10. Commendations, awards, honors, personal notes from students and parents 
  11. Records of referrals of students for purposes of discipline, protection, or special services 
  12. CTA member benefits, legal, and liability information
  13. Association newsletters and other communications 
  14. Documentation from the District Office of any leave taken that may impact STRS credit

Contract "Cliff Notes"

SMUHSD Teachers Association