First things first for first-year teachers

Sep 8, 2005 5:39 PM

Beginning teachers can quickly get overwhelmed by a growing “to do” list of classroom plans as well as forms and technicalities that go with the job. This TNT page will help you prioritize and keep track of what needs to be done in regular features and in the “Newcomer Checklist.”

For starters, these are some “must do” items to take care of right away:

Get a commitment letter. All certified, newly hired teachers should have received a commitment letter. This letter ensures that the DOE will have a job for you. By the end of this process, 1) you should have a file number, which you need to be on payroll; and 2) you should be appointed.

Get paid. You need a file number to be put on payroll. If you are on payroll by Sept. 1, you should receive a check on Sept. 15. The DOE has promised to send every newly hired teacher an e-mail message telling you where to pick up your check on Sept. 15. If you do not receive this e-mail message but have a commitment letter, see your school payroll secretary. If you do not receive a check by Sept. 30, consult your chapter leader about getting an emergency check. It will tide you over until you get paid.

Choose a health plan. One of the most important decisions you must make during the first week or two on the job is choosing a health plan. UFT members can choose from a wide array of options — from cost-free HMO plans to plans that offer more latitude, at a price. To familiarize yourself with all the plans, review the current Summary Program Description published by the New York City Employee Benefits Office, available from your school payroll secretary, along with the actual application form, ERB-2000. Also, check the UFT Web site, for our publication “Health Plans: Before You Choose, Know.” Also, if you are pleased with the doctors you currently use, ask which plan they participate in. And talk to your colleagues, but remember that your specific situation may be different from theirs.

If you haven’t already done so, complete the ERB application, available from your school’s payroll secretary. Photocopy the form and all accompanying documents for your records before submitting them to your school’s payroll secretary. Although it takes a few weeks for your form to be processed, you are covered by your health plan from your first day on the job. Be sure to save receipts for any medical expenses you incur so you can be reimbursed once your enrollment is complete.

Enroll in the UFT Welfare Fund. For supplemental health benefits such as prescription drugs, dental, optical and many others, be sure to enroll in the UFT Welfare Fund. This is separate from your health plan enrollment. Your chapter leader can give you a Welfare Fund enrollment form. Complete it and send it back along with the required documentation for your dependents. Save receipts for any prescription drug expenses you incur so you can be reimbursed once your enrollment is processed. For details about UFT Welfare Fund benefits go to Names of participating providers of dental and optical services are available at:, Dental, optical, hearing aid, an disability forms are available online at: or you may call the Forms Hotline at (212) 539-0539. 1