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Frequently Asked Questions 

  • Q. How do I find out how many sick days I have currently in my sick leave account?
    You can find your sick bank amount where you see your paystubs at: https://employee.ocde.us/ Sick Leave is accumulated in “hours”. 8 hours = 1 day. You can find it under the pull-down menu of “balances” and “Year at a glance” (see image, below)
  • Q. Where do I find the Frontline Link?
    Click on this link to access the Frontline Subfinder Page. Frontline
  • Q: What if I need to take a personal day? (Personal Business and Personal Necessity)
    You have two choices: Personal Business (PB) or Personal Necessity (PN). Which one should you choose and why? You may use up to 5 of your sick-leave days per year as Personal Business (PB) Leave. You may use this leave for ANY reason. You do NOT need to explain the reason. You do NOT need permission to take this leave. You do NOT need to fill out a form. You DO need to notify using Frontline (sub finder system) at least 3 student days before you take the leave (10.3.4.2). If you take PB leave for one or more of the pre-service days at the beginning of the year, you need to put it in the Frontline system at least 3 weekdays before. A sub is not required for a pre-service day absence, but it is deducted from your sick-leave bank. You may use up to 10 days for Personal Necessity (PN) PN can be used for things like: Death of a member of the family Taking care of a sick family member (child, spouse, parent..) Religious holiday Accident involving unit member, or their property Appearance in court as a litigant or witness Significant family events (graduation, child’s wedding…) May NOT be used for: “vacation” or “honeymoon”. For something like that, use one of your 5 PB days To be Clear: PB days are a subset of PN days. You get a TOTAL of 10 you can use each year. Five (5) of those 10 can be PB days; the rest can be PN and/or sick. If you are unsure if your absence qualifies as PN days, you can use PB (so long as you gave 3 days notice prior on Frontline). Regardless, your sick bank will reflect a deduction of one day (8 hours) for each PN or PB day you use. Keep in mind: PN days may be called in “immediately” (example: you call in the morning of the day you need to be out because the pipes in your house burst in the night and you need to attend to it). PB days, however, require 3 student-day notice in Frontline. PB days are typically “expected” with some fore-knowledge on your part. You probably know ahead of time you’re going to be out. PN days could be expected, or could be unexpected, for one of the reasons listed above.
  • Q: What If I have a Sick Family Member? Do I get more days for this?
    First of all: You can choose either Personal Necessity (PN) or Sick Family (child, spouse, parent...) as an absence reason for a sick family member. Yes, CA Labor Code 233 states that you can use up to an additional five (5) days for Sick Family (in addition to your typical 10 days/year), BUT, there are certain limitations : 1) You can only use up to five (5) of these in a school year. 2) They do not accumulate. For example: If you don't use 5 of these this year, you can't "bank" them for next year and take 10. 3) You MUST have these five (5) days available in your sick bank. They are not provided for you. They are deducted from your sick bank. 4) If you claim a 6th day, you will be deducted a day’s pay! Yes, you will lose a day’s pay! DO NOT CHOOSE THIS SELECTION MORE THAN 5 TIMES IN A SCHOOL YEAR! What do you do if you need more than 5 days to take care of a sick family member? Answer: You can always use PN days to take care of a sick family member (child, parent, spouse…). It’s just that California allows for you to take these 5 additional days without having to justify it with a doctor’s note. Advice: Choose “sick family” for the FIRST 5 for your family, then use PN days if you have more days you need to attend to a sick family member.
  • Q: What if I have Jury Duty?
    If you have Jury Duty, this will NOT be deducted from your sick-bank. You will continue to receive your full salary during your jury service. However, if there is payment to you from jury duty service (it’s usually a pretty nominal amount), that is deducted from your daily rate of pay. If you voluntarily defer your jury duty service from working hours to non-working hours (example: in the summer), you can receive the daily substitute pay! You’ll need to submit your proof-of-service with a notification of postponement and the original summons. But, the district would rather pay you the sub money in your summer, and keep you in your classroom during the school year.
  • Q: What if I need to take a bereavement day?
    You are allowed up to 3 days of Bereavement (5 days if it's out of state) that will NOT be deducted from your sick bank. If you choose this selection, your site will confirm that the bereavement falls into the category of “immediate family” as written in 10.6.2 of the contract. If it is not confirmed, the leave will then be taken from your sick bank as Personal Necessity. Your site will notify you of this change. Immediate Family shall be defined as: mother, father, grandmother/father or grandchild of the employee or the spouse or domestic partner of the Unit Member. Also, the spouse, domestic partner, child, son-in-law/daughter-in-law, brother/sister, brother/sister-in-law, step-parent, former guardian of a Unit Member, aunt, uncle or any individual living in the immediate household of a unit member.
  • Q: What if I run out of sick leave but still need to take a day?
    This is known as paying a "differential". It is the difference between your daily rate of pay and the daily rate of substitute pay. Relevant contract language:
  • Q: How do I sign up for The Standard disability Insurance?
    The Standard has a dedicated phone number for CTA members: 800-522-0406 7 AM - 6 PM Monday - Friday PST ctaservice@standard.com
  • Q: What if I'm out of sick days but need to be out for a long time (such as with a long term illness or my sick leave becomes exhausted during Pregnancy Disability Leave)?
    It is a good idea to have The Standard disability insurance. As a member of CTA, you are eligible for disability insurance (there is no such insurance through CUSD as your employer). Disability insurance is helpful for longer term absences in which a differential needs to be paid (a differential is when you pay the difference between your daily salary and the daily rate for your substitute). You can find out more about that insurance at: https://www.ctamemberbenefits.org/disability *If your leave is exhausted during Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL), please read the FAQ on PDL as it has additional information and contract language. Relevant contract language:
  • Q: What is the Catastrophic Sick Bank? How do I contribute to it? How do I use it?
    There are forms - to both contribute to, and request from - the Catastrophic Sick bank on this CUEA website under the "Forms" pull-down menu a the top of this screen. Relevant Contract Language:
  • Q: What if I need to go out on Pregnancy Disability Leave?
    Several times a year CUEA/CUSD sponsor a maternity leave workshop. You can also contact CUSD Insurance to ask questions, and CUEA. Relevant Contract Language:
  • Q: How do I read my paystub?
  • Q: What gets taken out of my paycheck in August?
    There are 11 paychecks in a school year. The first one is in August. The last one is in June. There are no paychecks in July. Your rate of pay should be 1/11th of your annual salary each month. *Note: 6/5ths assignments are paid September - June. See the FAQ on 6/5ths for how to calculate those - as they are calculated differently in the two semesters. On the August check, there are NO deductions for: Health Benefits (medical or dental) Union Dues 403(b) retirement On the August check (and every check), there ARE deductions for STRS 10.25% if you were hired before January of 2013 10.205% if you were hired on or after January 2013
  • Q: Why do I not receive a paycheck in December (but instead receive two in January)?
    Your December pay check is actually paid sometime between January 2nd through January 4th. It depends on where the weekend falls. You can look at the OCDE paycheck website (https://employee.ocde.us/) and look at your historical years of payments and you'll see it fluctuates between January 2nd and 4th. Why is this? It started over 30 years ago when CUSD was asked by the Orange County Department Of Education (OCDE) their preference on paying the December check at the end of December or at the beginning of January. No sense in trying to figure out why (or who) was responsible for this decision, as it was 30 years ago and what's done is done. The issue becomes this: If CUSD were to change the January (early) check to December 30th, then one year, you'd receive 12 checks, and the next year you'd receive 10 checks. This affects how you'd report your annual income to the IRS. As it stands now, you receive 11 checks/calendar year. It just depends on how you look at it: for IRS purposes, or for "school year" purposes. 11 checks for annual (IRS) purposes: January early, January late, February, March, April, May, June, August, September, October, November. 11 checks for annual "school year" purposes: August, September, October, November, January early, January late, February, March, April, May, June. Keep in mind that each check is 1/11th of your salary, even if the month is not a complete "work month" (for example: In August we don't start at the beginning of the month. November, December and April have week(s) long breaks in them...). So, the distribution of pay of your work year is evenly divided into 11 checks regardless of the number of work-days in any particular month. You might also want to see the FAQ on "What gets taken out of my paycheck in August?" since the deductions on that check are different than the rest of the year's checks.
  • Q: How do I get approval for and submit units for column advancement on the salary schedule?
    Click this link for the CUSD HRS page on Graduate Approval Units (the form to fill out and the timeline) Below is the specific contract language which addresses this issue:
  • Q: How do I apply for approval for a Master's degree program?
    Before you commit to any Master's degree program, be sure you seek pre-approval from CUSD. This is the link to the HRS site regarding Graduate Unit Approval This is the contract language around Master's degrees
  • Q: What about that one year (2007) when our Steps got "frozen" on the Salary Schedule. Why did that happen? Why would CUEA agree to that?
    If you were hired before July 1, 2007, you may recall that you were “frozen” on the same salary step that you had in 2006. Example: In 2006, you were on step 11, and then in 2007, you remained on step 11. Why did this happen? When you were hired, the salary schedule had the top salary paid when you reached the 24th step. Beginning July 1, 2007, the top salary paid occurred when a unit member reached the 23rd step - one year sooner. During that negotiation year (for the 2-year contract which covers July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2008), the district agreed to “compress” the time it would take to get to the maximum salary (step 23), however, existing unit members would continue to receive the highest salary as was originally promised to them (step 24). Only new-hires as of July 1, 2007 would get their highest salary when they reached their 23rd year. This was an incentive for new hires to join a district where they could get to their maximum salary sooner. When the district then printed new salary schedules for 7/1/2007, the highest step was listed as 23. Since you were promised the highest salary when you reached step 24, it was necessary to “freeze” your progression so that it would now align with the new printed salary schedules. Example: If you look back to any salary schedule printed before 2007, you will see that Step 12 is the last step before a period of 4 years of the same salary (known as a longevity increment) - until step 16 (which is then a 5% increase over step 12). During those 4 years, the only raise you would have received was if/when the whole salary schedule was increased. These three longevity increments used to occur at steps 12, 16 and 20 Looking at any salary schedule printed since 7/1/2007, you will see the new longevity increments occur at steps 11, 15 and 19. THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT, AND POSITIVE, POINT ABOUT THE TRADE-OFF: For that 2006-08 contract period, the whole salary schedule was increased by 4% as of 7/1/06 and by an additional 3% as of 7/1/07. That’s a total of 7.12% over that two year period; a good settlement for that time period. For the year beginning 7/1/07, when your step was frozen, you received a 3% salary increase; which is typically what the increase is for anyone advancing a step anyway. Longevity increments explanation: Typically, when you progress a step on the salary schedule, there is a 3% increase to your salary even if the overall salary schedule isn’t increased through negotiations. Example: Say there is no raise to the salary schedule for a particular year. You would still receive a 3% raise by advancing one step on the salary schedule. If there were a raise to the salary schedule, you receive the 3% step raise as well as the raise to that new step that occurred. However, during the three longevity increments, you do not advance by 3% each year. But, if there’s an increase to the whole salary schedule, you would receive that increase based on your longevity step. Example: Currently, if you are on step 11, 12, 13 and 14, you would receive the same salary. Same thing if you are on step 15, 16, 17 and 18. But, if that year’s agreement raises the salary schedule by some percentage, you would go up to whatever step 11 or step 15 (depending on where you are in your longevity increment) would be. Keep in mind, these longevity increments used to be at steps 12-15 and steps 16-20. Moving from longevity step 11 to 15 is a 5% increase. Moving from longevity step 15 to 19 is a 6% increase. Moving from longevity step 19 to 23 is a 7% increase. And, it should be noted that before July 2017, moving from longevity step 19 to 23 was a 6% increase. The settlement CUEA reached with CUSD for July 2017 increased that longevity step from 6% to 7%. This was an important outcome from the 2017 negotiation session. Example: If you divide the salary on step 23 by the salary on step 19, you should see 1.07 (which reflects a 7% increase).
  • Q. How do I calculate my monthly salary for a 6/5ths assignment?
    If you are assigned a 6/5ths assignment for the year, the first check you will receive with a payment will be the SEPTEMBER paycheck (Not the August paycheck). 6/5ths is 20% of your base salary, NOT including any master's stipend. 6/5ths are paid on a per-semester basis. Four (4) checks in the Fall and six (6) checks in the Spring: The four (4) checks which encompass first semester are: September, October, November, December (remember: no 6/5ths payment is made on the August check). The six (6) checks which encompass second semester are: January, February, March, April, May and June. The following is a link to a Google Document explaining a Google Spreadsheet you can use to estimate your monthly 6/5ths amount on both the Fall and the Spring checks.
  • Q. How is it determined who receives a 6/5ths assignment?
  • Q. How are Department Chairs selected?
    The following is a summary and an interpretation of Article 14.3 (Department Chair) Each year the principal is to email to all staff requesting that each department begin the department chair selection process. This email should be sent prior to April 1st. The nominees need to be submitted to the principal, for consideration, during the month of April. However, there is no set deadline in the contract for the actual selection. Each department can submit up to 2 names. The department has flexibility as to how they want to arrive at the two names. It can be by volunteer(s), affirmation or secret ballot. There are no set procedures for this. The intent is to allow departments to organically decide upon the two names. And, it doesn't have to be the way "you've always done it...". Different times may call for different procedures. Department members should always feel free to nominate themselves or others. The department should reach consensus on what they feel is a reasonable method of selection of nominees for that year. It can be the way "you've always done it" or a different way this year. Should there be some controversy in deciding on the selection process, departments can ask a 3rd party (perhaps a CUEA site rep and/or another member from a different department on campus) to run a secret ballot for their department. Administration should not be running any secret ballot for the nomination process. Administration ultimately chooses the department chair, but the nomination process itself is supposed to be solely from the department. In the case of only one person being interested, then that person shall be the only nominee sent forward. The nominee(s) should be acceptable to all of the members of the department and be able to represent the members of the department. The most important job of the Department Chair is to facilitate two-way communication between the department and the school's leadership team. A successful department chair has the good faith of both the administration and their department members. Once the department chooses the nominee name(s), those name(s) are then forwarded to the principal who will make the selection based on the name(s) submitted. If the principal does not feel comfortable appointing either nominee(s) as Department Chair, they may request additional names from the department. Ultimately, the principal has the decision making power to select from the two nominees (or request another set of nominees be submitted if the principal doesn't feel comfortable appointing either of the nominees presented). The principal does not need to disclose their rationale in writing. Nor is an interview required (by contract); but, it is advisable to have an interview with both candidates in order to have the good faith of both the administration and the colleagues in the department.
  • Q: I'm considering a voluntary transfer, what is the timeline for that?
    The following pdf explains the timeline and process for voluntary transfers
  • Q: How do I apply for a partnership teaching agreement (Elementary School)?
    This is the partnership agreement form that you would fill out with your partner and site administrator: What is the timeline for seeking permission for a partnership teaching agreement? (click on the .pdf below) Do be aware: Partnership agreements affect eligibility for Article 15. Please see the "Retirement" tab FAQ and select the information about Article 15 (Part-time Employment: Reduction of Workload from Full-Time). To be eligible for Article 15, you must be at least age 55 and have at least 10 total years as a certificated employee - the most recent 5 of which had to be without a break in service (Partnership agreements would be considered a "break in service"). This is a link to the District's Google Slide stack presentation on Partnerships Relevant Contract Language: CUEA and CUSD are currently negotiating some of the finer points of this process. Once that is finalized, we will upload the specific contract article(s) language here. Currently, this is covered in Article 9.7 (Partnership Teaching Assignment) of the 2022-23 contract.
  • Q: How do I apply for voluntary part-time at a Middle or High School?
    This is the form you would fill out with your administrator and have a conversation about mutually understanding your rights and responsibilities. Part-time contract requests need to be submitted annually and do not carry over year to year. Do be aware: Part-time agreements affect eligibility for Article 15. Please see the "Retirement" tab FAQ and select the information about Article 15 (Part-time Employment: Reduction of Workload from Full-Time). To be eligible for Article 15, you must be at least age 55 and have at least 10 total years as a certificated employee - the most recent 5 of which had to be without a break in service (Part-time agreements would be considered a "break in service"). This is a link to the District's Google Slide stack presentation on Part-Time agreements The pdf (below) is the timeline for requesting a part-time teaching position at Middle or High School: Relevant Contract Language: CUEA and CUSD are currently negotiating the finer points of this process. When that is completed, we will upload the specific language to this FAQ page. Until that time, the letter is mutually agreed upon as a method of communicating rights and responsibilities of any unit member granted voluntary part-time status.
  • Q: How do I report my intent to retire?
    Link to the CUSD retirement form from the HRS website
  • Q. How do I calculate my potential STRS retirement?
    You can use the CalSTRS online calculator, but it only let's you see one year (age) at a time. If you want to figure out what the amount would be at a few different ages, you have to "recalculate" each time. The button below links to a Google Doc for using a Google Spreadsheet that will allow you to see a range of ages. For example: you can look at what your possible annual amount would be if you were to retire between the age ranges of 55 to 70. That way, you can compare all in one location. The spreadsheet uses the same method that the CalSTRS online calculator uses. Disclaimer: This is for estimating only! For a more accurate estimate, use the CalSTRS calculator website and/or contact a CalSTRS retirement specialist.
  • Q: Does my master's degree stipend get figured into the STRS calculation? How about 6/5ths or co-curricular stipend?
    STRS Defined Benefit (DB): Basically, anything that is paid on all of your checks is considered your salary and therefore, yes, the master's degree (and doctoral degree) stipend is counted toward your STRS benefit. Defined Benefit Supplemental (DBS): 6/5ths and co-curricular stipends are subject to what is known as the Defined Benefit Supplemental (DBS) which is a separate deduction - and benefit - within your STRS benefit. Each year, in your STRS summary, you should see any DBS amount you have accumulated if you have had one of these extra paid assignments. If you teach summer school, there is also a deduction/benefit for DBS.
  • Q: What are some things I should be aware of in regards to Article 15 (part-time employment: reduction of workload)
    First of all, it is highly recommended that you attend the workshop offered in the year in which you are considering applying for this. The district should send an email to all possible eligible (55 and older) employees prior to this meeting and invite you to the meeting. This is a link to the District's Google Slide stack presentation on Article 15 To be eligible, 1. You must be 55 years of age or older prior to using this. 2. You must have been employed in a full-time position as a certificated staff member for at least 10 years total, of which you could not have a break in service during the previous five years before taking Article 15. What counts as a "break in service"?: Let's say you took a part-time (or partnership) contract. That counts as a break in service. You need to work a full 5 years (full-time) AND be over 55 in order to be eligible. Or, let's say you took a year's leave of absence, that is also a break in service. You'll have to wait 5 years from either of these situations in order to be eligible. What are some hidden costs/benefits: Cost: You must pay your full CalSTRS for the year as if you were receiving 100% of your salary (Your CalSTRS contribution is 10.25% of your salary). This allows you to get a full year's credit with CalSTRS. This is not-optional. You cannot get a "partial year's" credit. This way too, your CalSTRS calculation is based on your full year's salary as well as your full year's service credit. (see the FAQ on how to calculate CalSTRS). The district will continue to pay their portion of your CalSTRS as if you were a 100% employee (so, that’s actually a benefit to you). For Example: If you were on a voluntary part-time (or partnership), you get a partial years credit with CalSTRS and you do not pay any difference. You are also not eligible to "pay the difference" to get a full year's service credit. This is a major difference between Article 15 part-time and voluntary part-time contracts. Benefit: Unlike a voluntary part-time or partnership agreement, your full district-portion of health benefits will be paid. For Example: If you are under Employee + Family plan for health benefits, you will continue to pay your portion of the premium and the district will pay the full cap for that amount (it's as if you were a full-time employee). Voluntary part-time or partnership unit members only get the percentage they are working as their district co-premium. Unlike a voluntary part-time or partnership agreement, you receive the full 10 days of sick leave for the year. When do I need to sign up? You need to let HRS know by March 31st of the year preceding, unless you have some extenuating circumstances that prevented notification by that date. Do I get to choose if I want to go part-time (half-day) all year or work FIRST semester only? Yes, it is your choice. But..... Keep in mind that if you decide to work first semester only, and not second semester (and that is the only “semester” option), that the semester lengths ARE NOT EVEN. First semester is SHORTER than the second semester. That means you will be required to work - or take days (only up to the 5 Personal Business Days are allowed. Cannot use PN days) - for the overlap. Essentially, you will need to work through January 15th 2025 (that would be 92.5 days, which is half of 185), if you choose to work first semester but not second semester. If there is a SERP (Supplemental Employee Retirement Program) that year, do I get the full amount? No. It is a pro-rated basis. If you are working a reduced contract, the SERP is based on your reduced salary. (See the FAQ on SERP) You have to re-apply for this each year. It is not automatically renewed. But, it is your decision to take/not-take it.
  • Q: What is a SERP (retirement incentive)?
    A SERP (Supplemental Employee Retirement Program) is an incentive provided by a district. Districts cannot offer this unless they can demonstrate it would be a financial savings to the district. Typically, districts hire a third-party accounting firm which can analyze their data and help a district decide if it is within their financial interest or not. Typically, a SERP is an amount of money that is between 60-80% of the unit member's current salary. Note: Unit members on partial contract (such as Article 15) would receive the amount based on their current year's salary, not their full salary. It is a pro-rated amount. SERPs usually do NOT come with additional years of service credit added to your years-of-service. It can, yes, but it is typically only a sum of money based on the current salary. The money is not distributed as a lump sum, rather, it is annuitized over a period of time in a monthly amount (typically between 5-6 years). The unit member will be presented with a number of options for this annuity. If a SERP is offered by a district, there will be a lower limit of number of employees who will need to retire in order for it to be accepted. A due date will be set. The due date is typically in January or February, and if you commit to taking the SERP, it is non-revokable. If the SERP doesn't meet the number of employees necessary, then, you can change your mind and decide to continue employment. You should not count on a SERP. Districts tend to not want to offer them because it is not only a financial decision, but it is also an experience-drainer. As in most things in life: it's a balance.
  • Q: I heard that I need to be using district health insurance if I want to be eligible for the Bridge to Medicare when I retire. Is that true?
    Yes! Even if you traditionally were not using district health insurance, you must sign up for it during the open enrollment period of the year you plan to retire. You must sign up during open enrollment of November if you plan on retiring that June. You can sign up for any of the plans. That includes any of the no-premium-to-you high deductible plans. If you and your spouse are both employees of CUSD, you EACH need to be signed up for health benefits the year you retire. If, for example, normally only one of you is covered (and that coverage is then for both you and spouse), you EACH have to be covered in the year one (or both) of you retire. In addition, there are some other rules such as: You have to have completed at least 10 years of consecutive service to the District at time of retirement. Part time service is ok (for example, if you were on Article 15). There is a sliding percentage scale (see below) for how much of the premium the District will pay based on your years of service.
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