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1) KNOW About the Supplemental Employee Retirement Package (SERP)!
Pending ratification of the Tentative Agreement and Board of Trustees approval, a Supplemental Employee Retirement Package (SERP) will be offered to teachers who qualify. To qualify you must be 50 + years old with at least 30 years of service credit in CalSTRS or 55+ with at least five years in CUSD. Dates for meetings for information on the SERP will be announced soon. This is the time to get busy planning! If you are even thinking about it, you need to take some steps.

2) KNOW Your Finances And Your CalSTRS Benefits!
Once you have received the packet of information, being mailed out to all qualified for the SERP sometime in the next couple of weeks, make sure you check with a financial advisor and contact CalSTRS at (800) 228-5453 for an individual or small group appointment. We are hearing they are completely booked up, but if you call, they can walk you through the process online and possibly via Skype. You will need to go to their website at www.calstrs.com to view and print out your latest Retirement Progress Report.

To get a fairly close estimate of your pension benefit, go to the Retirement Benefits Calculator on their website. You will need to know how many accrued sick days you have. For that you need to log in to the OCDE Employee Information System on “Balances” > “Year at a Glance,” to see how many hours of sick leave you have accrued. Divide that number by 8 hours/day to see how many days you have. You will need to also know the number of days in your contract with the district (185 for teachers; varies for psychologists, speech paths, counselors and nurses). You can play with your retirement date to see what it would look like if you retired this year, next year, in two or three years, etc.

3) KNOW How To Retire - What Forms Do You Need?
Retirees may easily access and complete the Retirement Application for CalSTRS online with video support. There are some CalSTRS workshops planned to take actual retirees through the Retirement Application for CalSTRS. These meetings are designed to help those who are committed to retiring to complete the form. These will be held at the CUEA office at 27422 Aliso Creek Rd., Suite 100, Aliso Viejo as follows:
  • Saturday, March 3, 9:00 - 11:00 AM
  • Monday, March 5, 5:00 – 7:00 PM
  • Wednesday, March 7, 5:00 – 7:00 PM
See our page on all February and March Workshops for retirement.

To attend, please RSVP to Please bring to the workshop your Retirement Progress Report and a clipboard to write on.

4) KNOW Your Retiree Health Benefits!
If you are thinking about retiring this year, be sure to check out Article 13.7 - Retiree Health Benefits in the CUEA/CUSD contract (available online at www.cuea.org ). This particular section has not changed, so you can see it in the old contract. The benefit depends on your years of service in CUSD. If you are younger than 65, and will need District gap health insurance coverage prior to eligibility for Medicare, you MUST be enrolled in a District health plan THIS YEAR. If you need to enroll, there will be a new, very strict, short open enrollment period announced sometime after the Board of Trustees approves the new contract at their February 13 meeting.

Whatever plan you enroll in this year, will be the plan you retire with until the next open enrollment for 2019. You can get an estimate of rates for retirees and any dependents on the insurance page at the District website when new rates are published soon. Whatever plan you enroll in will be the plan for your dependents. If you are a married couple in which both husband and wife are certificated CUSD employees, and are both retiring, you BOTH must be enrolled in a health plan this year to qualify for the Retiree Health Benefit.

Dental insurance will be an option to purchase as a retiree for employee and spouse. An option for vision coverage for 18 months will be available through COBRA after retirement. The CUSD Insurance Dept. will be sending out more detailed information to all retirees during the open enrollment and posted on the Insurance webpage.

Some Additional Things To Consider Regarding A Decision to Retire
Many CUEA members, who are eligible to retire, are struggling with the decision about whether they should take the early retirement incentive and retire at the end of this year or not. This is a difficult decision. CUEA recommends that you consult with CalSTRS, your financial planner, and ATTEND THE PARS INFORMATIONAL MEETINGS.

For those on the fence, you should consider that there are many things that you will no longer need to pay for after you retire.

You will no longer have to pay for:
  • 10.25% contribution to CalSTRS.
  • $107.90 monthly NEA/CTA/CUEA dues (however, you can join CTA Retired for a minimal amount if you want to be part of their lobbying efforts to maintain your retirement benefits).
  • The Standard for disability/paycheck protection.
  • Employee-only health benefits if you have 20 or more years with the district. If you have less than 20 years your health benefits will be reduced (see Article 13.7 of contract at www.cuea.org). If you are over 65 years, Medicare will be available, and the amount of Part B coverage will be mitigated by not having to pay dues mentioned above.
If you take the early retirement incentive there are benefits that you will receive. You will receive:
  • 80% of your 2017-18 base salary annuitized. If more than 202 participants take the early retirement incentive, the benefit will increase to 85% of your 2017-18 base salary annuitized.
  • No more lesson plans, parent conferences, report cards, assessments, and ACE/Late Start meeting.
  • The ability to travel during off-season and finally see the leaves changing in New England.
  • Hanging out with fellow retirees walking each morning at Dana Point Harbor.

HomeAbout CUEAExecutive BoardRep CouncilMember ChangesPrivacyLocationAdvertisingContact

Capistrano Unified Education Association

27422 Aliso Creek Road, Suite 100

Aliso Viejo, CA 92656


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Please email webmaster@cuea.org

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CUSD and Brandman University are hoping to start cohorts with Brandman for the summer and fall of 2017. There will be opportunities for both scholarships and career advancement. Information meetings will be held at the District Office in Training Rooms 2 & 3 on the following dates:

  • Thursday, March 16, 4:00 – 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday, March 22, 5:00 – 6:00 PM

To sign up or for more specific information, click here.


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The NEA Representative Assembly is being held in Boston, MA this year from June 29 – July 6. We have several people from CUEA who are vying to be CTA state delegates from Orange County at this assembly.

The election will be held by CUEA Building Representatives at school sites between Wednesday, March 13 – Friday, March 15. Active members only may vote for less than but no more than 20 of the candidates listed on the ballot. Here are the CUEA candidates with their number on the ballot (there is a total of 57 candidates for the Orange County area).

  • #10 Joy Schnapper
  • #18 Nona Brinkman Reimer
  • #27 Michael Hulse
  • #35 Manisha (Kulkarni)-Fish
  • #44 Sally White
  • #46 Christy Watson Heidner
  • #49 Robyn L. Nixon



Candidacy statement for CUEA Executive Officers and other Executive Board positions are currently available for the CUEA General Election, which will be held in April. CUEA Reps will be given candidacy statements at the next Rep Council meeting this coming Tuesday, March 7, to distribute to members. If you are an active member of CUEA and are interested in becoming more involved in leadership in CUEA, now is your chance.

Candidacy statements are due on Tuesday, March 28 by 4:30 PM to the CUEA Office, and may be sent through district mail or delivered to 27422 Aliso Creek Rd., Suite 100, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656.

The following offices/positions are up for election:

First Vice President ($1,500/year stipend)
Second Vice-President ($1,500/year stipend)
Secretary ($1,300/year stipend)
(2) High School Representatives-at-Large ($1,000/year stipend)
(1) Middle School Representative-at-Large ($1,000/year stipend)
(3) Elementary School Representatives-at-Large ($1,000/year stipend)
(1) CTA State Council Delegate ($1,000/year stipend)
Building Representative(s) ($599/year stipend)



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Every spring CUEA offers scholarships to the children of our members who are currently high school seniors planning to attend college in the fall. In order to be eligible students must meet the following criteria:
  • Parent or guardian must be a teacher, speech pathologist, nurse, psychologist, or counselor employed in CUSD
  • Parent or guardian must be a member of CUEA
  • Student must be a graduating senior with an overall GPA of 3.2 or better
  • Student must be planning to attend college
You can find the application online here and also on the CUEA website. Click on “Programs” > “Scholarships.” See this page in the CUEA website for a complete list of CUEA and CTA Scholarships available. Applications are must be returned NO LATER than 4:00 PM on Monday, March 27 to the CUEA office, 27422 Aliso Creek Rd., Suite 100, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656.


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Special Education Task Force






Last year, CUSD brought in the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), to review the entire Special Education programs and services in the District. This team was specifically looking for deficiencies.  They interviewed representative groups from all stakeholders, including special education and general education educators and support staff, in order to analyze the continuum of services, staffing ratios, class and caseload sizes, the general organization and efficiency of the Special Ed department. After the FCMAT report was issued, the District saw the need for a strategic plan to carry out the suggested reforms. Randi Gibson, Interim Special Education Project Consultant, has been charged with overseeing the formation and implementation of the Strategic Plan.


A Strategic Plan Task Force Advisory Board is currently being formed from applicants.  This Board will oversee and respond to several Strategic Plan Task Force Work Group Committees, including Continuum of Services, Identification-Monitoring-Compliance, Leadership & Communication, and Support Services & Staffing. They will need 1-3 general ed and 1-2 special ed teachers on each of these committees.


In the next couple of weeks there will be an email sent out to all certificated staff requesting volunteers for these committees, with details regarding the task of each committee, meeting dates, times and locations. If you would like to have input on these vital committees, be looking for this email in your school district email box.

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Many of our members are asking for an update on the District’s transfer/hiring process.  Currently, Human Resources is placing all surplus teachers (including those at Crown Valley Elementary).  When that is completed, they will move to place any voluntary transfer requests as possible. After those have been placed, the temporary teachers who are being asked back will be notified of their placements.  Finally, any new hires needed will be selected.  The District has been actively accepting applications and interviewing new candidates to have a pool ready, with the expectation that all schools will be fully staffed by June 30.


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Beginning Of The Year Contract Reminders

Credit for Summer Classes
If you have taken summer classes for salary credit, you must submit transcripts to the CUSD Personnel Department no later than October 31. Adjustment will be made retroactive to the first working day. CUEA suggests you get the paperwork in much earlier.

Kindergarten Reminder
Kindergarten teachers have priority when signing up for the computer lab and library on ACE days.

Elementary Combo Classes
Three/four combo teachers receive the same release time as 4th grade teachers, 80 minutes of block music release per week.


High School Late Start Days

When putting together the Late Start schedule for the high school school year, it is important that teachers and administration follow the CUEA/CUSD Contract. Article 5.8.3 states that Late Start days at the high school level shall be scheduled with the input and approval of the staff. Teachers shall give input on the frequency, duration and usage of late start days, with no more than four hours per month dedicated to professional development and/or departmental/subject matter collaboration time. And Article 5.8.4 states that Faculty meetings shall be no longer than one hour in length and conducted no more than once a month. Faculty meetings for the month will occur on an ACE/Late Start day.

This means that teachers must be involved in deciding not only how many Late Start days will be scheduled, but how those days will be used as well. Besides the faculty meeting, other choices Late Start days may include the following: department meeting; staff development; collaboration meetings; independent planning time; and meetings dedicated to the WASC process. For reference, high school teachers may want to refer to Article 5.8.2 which describes in more detail, how ACE (Late Start) days should be spent.

With school closing a week earlier than usual, CUEA suggests that the secret ballot voting be completed prior to the Memorial Day holiday.

Sub Coverage Pay For All Teachers

District office has been releasing teachers for the past few months to attend trainings and meetings which has resulted in a shortage of subs for teachers who are absent on any given day. This means that teachers are being asked to cover each other classes during the school day.

As per Articles 5.12 and 14.7.1 of the CUEA/CUSD Contract, all teachers, elementary and secondary, music and special ed teachers, get paid $35 an hour to cover a colleague’s class if the substitute does not show up, or for as long as it takes for the sub to arrive if the instructional day has already started. Additionally, if students from the absent teacher are sent to other teachers’ classrooms, those teachers also receive $35 an hour as well.

This contract provision is not new, so if you have been covering classes anytime this year, or taking students from another class, without getting paid, notify your principal immediately so the proper paperwork can be completed  - this includes RSP teachers.

Report Card Comments

It has been agreed by both the district and CUEA that elementary teachers are responsible for their own comments on report cards. Therefore, principals should not be asking teachers to submit comments for review, prior to sending to parents. However, principals may access report cards at anytime anyway.

Additionally, teachers need to remember that because the Standards Based Report Card is so specific to each standard, teachers should not need to make many additional comments unless a grade needs to be documented.

Personal Necessity Days
Did You Know There Are 10?

One of the major contract changes effective in 2012-13 is the addition of 3 more Personal Necessity days ("PN Days") Article 10.3, for a total of 10 days. This means all ten (10) of your allotted sick days per year can be used for personal necessity reasons. Keep in mind, you still must tell your principal in advance of the need to take a Personal Necessity day. Also, see the line item below about "No-Tell" days.

Five "No-Tell" Personal
Necessity Days

New contract language was  adopted last spring allowing for five (5) "No Tell" days. Refer to Article 10.3.3 in the CUEA/CUSD Contract now online at the CUEA website. There is no restriction  as to when those days may taken. Keep in mind that these 5 days are part of the 10 PN days allowed per year as enumerated in Article 10.3.

What To Do About Jury Duty

If you are called for jury duty, you have the option to either serve when called, or postpone your service to a non-working day during winter or spring break or the summer vacation months.

If you choose to postpone and serve on your "own time," the district will pay you the same amount they would have paid a regular subsitute. In order to receive the substitute pay, you must submit a copy of the original summons, the notification of postponement of service, and the dated proof of jury service.

If you decide to serve your duty during the school year, the district pays for your sub and the days on jury duty are not counted against your sick leave.

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The transfer process is currently open. Applications must be submitted through www.cusdjobs.org no later than March 1. You only need to complete the top portion of the application. Resumes and letters of recommendation are not required for transfers. You may apply to any school you wish, but not all will have openings. Teachers requesting transfers will be notified of their request no later than April 15.

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At the October 14 Board Meeting, CUSD Trustees voted (5 to 2) to approve the original 2016-17 calendar, Option A, with the mid-August student start date of August 15, full week of Thanksgiving, first semester ending before Winter Break, and final student day on June 1. The Trustees received many emails regarding this issue, and said that the emails were fairly divided, with a little more for early start than against. There were several people (close to 30) who lined up to speak to this agenda item. Of those, about six spoke against early start. The rest, which included several very articulate high school students, four teachers (three high school and one who spoke for her elementary school staff) and several parents (even parents of elementary students) all spoke to the academic and stress reduction benefits of the early start.


One woman, who spoke to the academic argument, talked about encountering new people moving into her neighborhood from out of state who will ask, “How are the schools?” She said that they don’t mean, “What’s the start date of school?” A high school senior insisted the August start date made the only sense, because all students involved in fall sports or pep squad or marching band (about 20% of the students) are back in August anyway. She said, “My family hasn’t taken an August vacation since I was in middle school.” 


All of the high schoolers spoke to the great stress relief of being completely done with finals prior to Winter Break and of the advantage of having three extra weeks of instruction prior to high stakes testing. A couple of the high schoolers, who will be the first in their families to go to college (one is the first high school graduate in his family), mentioned the need for that full Thanksgiving week to prepare applications since they had no parental experience with them. Finally, many spoke about the advantage of being out in early June in order to attend summer school sessions at Saddleback and other colleges.


The arguments for a post-Labor Day start were mostly around problems with air conditioning and the possible added cost of running it during August. Trustees pointed out that the air conditioning issues (which are all over the District) are a separate facilities problem that is definitely a Board priority, but that our hottest weather this year has been in September and October.


Going forward, the District has a plan in place, beginning in the spring of 2016, to collect community input regarding the 2017-18 calendar and beyond, so that all stakeholders feel heard. This will include polling by an independent polling service, small group stakeholder meetings, reconvening of the Calendar Committee, and a community forum to review poll results, and recommendations.



Changes To Standard Disability Insurance

Standard LogoPlan premiums of the Voluntary Disability Insurance, offered through The Standard Insurance Company, will be modified starting September 1, 2015. Over the last decade, CTA members’ salaries have increased while the plan’s salary band and corresponding premiums have not changed. Currently, the highest salary band caps at $67,250+. Participants making $67,250 pay the same as those making $85,000. However, benefits are based on actual earned salary, so participants who pay premiums based on a $67,250 salary but are earning $85,000 are receiving a benefit that is not supported by the premiums. This contributes to a shortfall in premiums and a substantial subsidy by some participants.


To continue to provide high-quality income protection to all CTA members, the salary bands are being modified. This aligns premiums with benefits that are provided by the plan. Two modifications are being made: (1) One premium band for salaries under $44,500, and (2) six new salary bands for members who earn $76,250 and above.


This modification will allow The Standard to continue to provide benefits that so many members depend on (up to 75% income replacement) at premium rates that are among the most competitive in the country. Members who earn between $36,750 and $76,249 in annual salary will have no adjustments to premiums. Members outside of that range will see a premium adjustment and will receive a notification explaining the change. 


If you have any questions,
please call the CTA Customer Service Dept. at 1-800-522-0406
from 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time
or email: CTAService@standard.com.




Catastrophic Leave Bank - Have You Made Your Deposit?

What happens if you become so ill that you use up all of your sick leave? Well, under the contract in Article 10.17, catastrophic leave is defined as “. . . an illness or injury that is expected to incapacitate the employee for an extended period of time, requires the employee to take time off from work for an extended period of time and taking extended time off work creates a financial hardship for the employee because he or she has exhausted all of his or her sick leave and other paid time off."  “Paid time off” would include regular sick leave, extended sick leave (differential) [see 10.2.10], and industrial accident leave.


What do you do then? If you have deposited into the district Sick Leave Bank, you may use sick leave also donated by others, subject to certain restrictions as laid out in all of Article 10.17. You can find out by looking at the contract how to contribute and what the restrictions are.

Don’t wait until it is too late!  Donate now, if you meet the requirements. You will feel like you have some insurance against a catastrophe, and you will be helping your fellow employees in need.


NEA Representative Assembly Applications

The NEA Representative Assembly is the largest annual democratic convention in the United States.  This year it will be held in Orlando, FL from June 30-July 7.  If you would like to be part of California’s CTA delegation you can obtain the candidacy form from the back of your California Educator (Dec or Jan issues) or NEA Today, or you can find the form online at http://www.cta.org/About-CTA/Leadership/NEA-RA.aspx.

This is a big commitment of your time, but it is exciting to participate and represent our members’ interests.  If you are interested in being elected as a delegate, the form must be turned in no later than 5:00 p.m. on January 30, to the CTA Orange Service Center, 281 N. Rampart, Ste. A, Orange, CA 92688 (you can reach that office by phone at 714.978.8861. If you are elected, CTA and CUEA will defray your costs.



State Budget And CUSD

Governor Brown just signed into law the state budget for 2014/15. Below are brief highlights of the budget for school funding.

School District Reserves - The 2014-2015 State Budget includes language that would limit the amount of reserves that school districts statewide would be legally allowed to retain in their local budgets. Passage of this legislation assists us as classroom professionals who advocate for students to be certain that adequate resources will be provided to students and classrooms.

CalSTRS Unfunded Liability – The budget provides a multi-year plan of shared responsibility among the state, school districts and educators to resolve the CalSTRS unfunded liability and provide 100% funding within 32 years. The first year’s increased contributions from all three entities are fairly modest, but escalate further over 3 or 7 years.

Rainy Day Fund– The budget continues the Governor’s proposal for a constitutional amendment for the 2014 ballot to strengthen the existing state budget Rainy Day Fund. This ballot initiative will appear on the November 2014 ballot.

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The results are in for the CUEA General Election. Officers and Executive Board members elected beginning September 1, are as follows:

President (two-year term):  Sally White

Treasurer (two-year term):  Robyn Nixon

High School Reps-At-Large (one-year term):  John Kearsley, Greg Young

Middle School Rep-At-Large (one-year term): Carter Johnson

Elem Reps-At-Large (one-year term):  Susie Moothart, Nona Reimer, Mike Hardos

CTA State Delegate (three-year term): Casey Swenson

CTA State Delegate Alternates (three-year term): Christy Heidner, Robyn Nixon