Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about SmartFindExpress

SmartFindExpress is our new dispatch system for the TDSB. This product was launched on January 9, 2006. We have had many problems, primarily phone line issues and TDSB is continuing to work with the vendor to resolve these issues. We thank you for your patience and hope that the following information might be useful to you.

Q. Why was the dispatch system changed – the old system was working fine?
A. There is a browser part to this new product which enables end users to access SmartFindExpress through the web. We knew this would be a wonderful additional tool. End users would have an additional means to record jobs, view jobs, accept jobs, change their availability and unavailability and review assigned and cancelled jobs. Presently most of the school administrators have been trained to use this tool and are very impressed. Our intention is to roll this out to teachers and occasional teachers in the very near future. Currently we have a test group testing on behalf of occasional teachers. This browser part does not replace the phone lines, but is an additional tool.

Q. I am having problems accessing the SmartFindExpress System
A. Are you entering your Access ID # followed by the * key and then your PIN # followed by the * key? Do not put a “0” in front of your Access ID #. If you had two PIN #s in the past, you only need to use the PIN # that you had as a teacher or LTO. If you are not sure, contact the [email protected] or 416-397-3585. Make sure that your phone is working properly. Perhaps try another phone in the house. Be careful with a cell phone as the key pad can stick.

Q. I phone the system phone number – 416-338-4500 and the line is busy.
A. Please continue to try calling this number. We have had problems with “hung lines”. This happens when a call is not disconnected properly and creates a phone line that is suddenly not available. Always remember to press “9” to exit from the system. We have made a change on the configuration of the dialogic cards which should resolve the problem of “hung lines”. The best times to call the dispatch system are before a call out time or after a call out time. During the evening call out or early morning call out, school administrators and teachers are also trying to call in and book absences. Do not tie up the system phone number by “shopping for jobs”. You could miss a job and as well, when phone lines are tied up for long periods of time, absences cannot be created. Q. The system was offering me a job and I got cut off.
A. This is a problem that we are working on with the vendor. If this happens to you, please contact the [email protected] or by phone – 416-397-3585. We need the details – time of the call and any information you heard about the job. Your assistance will help to pinpoint the problem so we can get it resolved.

The following questions have been asked and are considered an enhancement request – at some future time they may be added to a new release.

Q. I have accepted a late call for a job that has already started, but when I call back into the dispatch system, I cannot hear the job.
A. Once a job has started you cannot review it on the dispatch system. You need to listen very carefully to the job. If you accept the job, you should always call back directly to the school to let them know you are on your way and determine an acceptable arrival time (1 hour is reasonable) because you received a late call. Also this is a good time to get any additional information that you might have missed when you accepted the job.

Q. When I review my jobs on the phone system, the jobs are in job # order, not date order?
A. This is a nuisance, but at the present time the vendor has not scheduled this enhancement.

Q. Why is there such a long delay when I am trying to shop for jobs?
A. This is an issue that the vendor is working on resolving. In the meantime we have asked the vendor to put a voice message on the phone system to say “we are searching, please continue to hold”.

Q. I was listening to a job and then heard the message “system error” and the dispatch system hung up on me.
A. This is an indication that the job has been offered to someone else. We have asked the vendor to change the message to say “this job is no longer available”.

Please review the following information.
We have received a lot of calls about these questions - the processes have not changed – they were the same as the old dispatch system.

Q. Why do I receive calls for which I am not qualified?
A. Calls for which you are not qualified may be coming to you for two reasons:
- You may be on a school’s priority list and they wish to have you for any job in their school.
- The system will have searched for a qualified person and if no one is available, you will be called before an emergency replacement person. The decision whether or not you take these jobs is yours.

Q. What happens if I have to cancel an assignment on the day of the assignment?
A. If you cancel the morning of a job, you have a responsibility to notify the school at the time you cancel on the system. If no one answers your call to the school, you can leave a message if they have an answering machine. The later you cancel, the harder it is for the system to find a replacement. It is your choice to cancel any job but it is important to remember that doing so at the last minute is very disruptive to the scheduling of the school day and that as a professional you have an obligation to fulfill the commitment that you accepted.

Q. What if the assignment is cancelled?
A. The system will call you during the next call-out period to tell you that the assignment has been cancelled. Also, you should review your future bookings frequently to confirm that pre-booked jobs are still in the system. If you do not hear the job, then it has been cancelled.

Q. What happens when the system calls me for a job and I already have a job booked for the same day?
A. The system has not had a chance to call you about a job cancellation. This new job offer is an indication that the job you thought you had has been cancelled. The system has not made a mistake.

Q. Can I turn down assignments?
A. Yes, in the morning you can decline five jobs before the system stops calling you. If you decline all five, it will not call you again that morning. However, you can still call into the system, after the morning call out, to see if there are appropriate jobs for you to accept. There are no limits to the number of evening calls you may receive or decline.

Q. Can I be removed from the list for refusing assignments or being unavailable during the call out period?
A. You cannot be removed from the list for refusals or unavailability. You must, however, work a minimum number of days as per your Collective Agreement in each school year to maintain your position on the list. Please keep in mind that we count on you as an occasional teacher to work as frequently as possible.

Q. What happens if someone (or an answering machine) hangs up the phone without entering my PIN?
A. It is considered a “hang-up” or a “no answer”. In the morning the system will allow two (5) hang-ups before it stops calling you and (5) no answer before it stops calling you. In the evening, the system will continue to call no matter how many times there is a hang up or no answer. “Hang-up” is defined as someone who has entered a PIN # and then hung up and “no answer” means there is an answering machine, call waiting or busy signal.

Other Questions

Q. As a retired teacher, how will I be affected by the end of the 95 day window (Aug. 31, 2006)?

A. If a teacher retired in June 2003, and were to teach up to 95 days for each of the following school years (2003/2004, 2004/2005, 2005/2006), they would not count towards the limits that are in effect after August 31, 2006. This is because all of the above post-retirement teaching would have occurred within the special window period of September 1, 2001 to August 31, 2006 where any teacher pensioner can do up to 95 days per school year within that window period without it affecting their pension. It's as if those three years never existed!

Effective September 1, 2006, this teacher will have 3 more school years (which do not have to be consecutive) in which to teach up to 95 days per school year without it affecting the teacher's pension. After that, the teacher would be limited to up to 20 days per school year without it affecting pension payments.

The rules that are effective after August 31, 2006 are not actually new rules. What is new, and only temporary, is the special window period between Sept. 1, 2001 and Aug. 31, 2006 [5 school years] whereby any and all pensioners can teach up to 95 days in each school year within this window period without it affecting their pension. After Aug. 31, 2006, one would simply pick up where one left off. Any teaching a teacher has done and will do from September 1, 2001 up to August 31, 2006 is covered by the special window period's rules. This is why once the window ends, a teacher on pension can teach without affecting pension payments for up to:
- 95 days in each of the first three school years on returning to teaching; and
- 20 days in each school year after that.

But, years in which a teacher taught 95 days before September 1, 2001 will count in the tally.

Q. Why is it so important for me to book off with the dispatch system if I'm not planning to work the next day?

A. The dispatch system wil use up valuable time calling you and having to wait for your voice message. We need to think about the entire membership. Jobs are going unfilled every day, or are filled by emergency workers, because the dispatch call-out system could not find anybody by 8:30 a.m.

Q. Why should I bring my job number to the school each day?

A. Usually everthing works well but sometimes there is a technical mix-up. If you arrive for a job and have your job number the TDSB will pay for the day and give you an alternate assignment if they have erred .. otherwise no.

Q. If I am given a bad timetable to fill can I refuse it and walk out?

A. If you have concerns abut your timetable or your assignment for the day, finish the day and then phone the OTBU office. Leaving, no matter how tempting, does not solve the problem and gives the Board cause to challenge you. Stick it out and call us sometime during the day or after and we will deal with it.

Q. When is an emergency worker called in?

A. The OTBU is completely opposed to the use of unqualified teachers. Members can reduce the use of these emergency workers by removing themselves from the call-out system if they are unavailable for work. The dispatch system wastes valuable time on our voice mail messages and has less time to get around to members who want to work. Once the TDSB has exhausted its possibilities of geting an O.T. for the job and the time is 8:20 a.m. the school calls an emergency worker. This person is not necessarily a certified teacher, but a responsible adult that can oversee the class. Both management and the OTBU are reluctant to have them used but they are the last resort and by law students must be supervised.

Q.Can the school legally give me additional teaching assignments?

A. Our working conditions are determined by our collective agreement. There is no language in our current contract making this an iron-clad "no-no". However, it is not to be encouraged. The OTBU meets with the management to go over issues such as this. It is short-sighted for a school to stack a timetable as O.T.'s will not be keen to return to that school.

Let the OTBU office know if this happens and we will refer it to the O.T. TDSB office.

We are making this one of our top priorities for this round of negotiations: O.T.'s should cover the timetable only of the teacher that is being replaced.

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