Pact emphasizes student mental health staff, a full-time nurse in every school, and increased support for special education inclusion
BOSTON, MA – The Boston Teachers Union (BTU) and City of Boston signed a tentative agreement this evening that provides critical resources for Boston Public Schools (BPS) students while taking steps to ensure more equitable pay for some of the department’s lowest paid employees, including an approximately $1 raise to base pay for paraprofessionals, who will see their starting base pay increase from $19.24 per hour to $20.62 per hour.
“This agreement takes significant steps to address critical student needs that educators and families have long advocated for. It also helps to raise up many of the department’s lowest-paid employees by boosting paraprofessional pay. It represents important progress for students, parents, and educators towards creating the schools that students deserve, despite the state’s continual underfunding and shortchanging of public education at all levels across the Commonwealth. Progress has been made at the municipal level but true success for our students hinges on the governor and legislature adequately funding public education in Boston and beyond. The agreement reflects a shared commitment by the BTU and by BPS to ensuring the best educational experience possible for every single student, including and especially for our most vulnerable and highest need students. Our shared focus on student health, student homelessness, and stronger inclusion practices shines through in this agreement,” said Jessica Tang, President of the Boston Teachers Union.
“As the parent of a child on an individual education plan, I am thrilled that this agreement will increase the supports available for students with IEPs and build towards better staffing support in inclusion classrooms,” said Maria Moura, a Boston Public Schools parent. “I am grateful that the Boston Teachers Union continues to push so hard for inclusion done right.”
This evening, BTU members are celebrating their now successful efforts to secure key student-focused investments that they have campaigned for since their last contract expired in August 2018. The innovative, student-focused, three-year agreement priorities key investments in student wellness, including stronger mental health supports.
The union won key provisions for students, families, and educators, including:
- School Nurses: A full-time nurse in every Boston Public School
- Mental Health: 23 new student-facing licensed mental health providers including school psychologists, social workers, and guidance counselors
- Strengthening Inclusion Practices: Additional staffing for inclusion classrooms, including improved staffing to support English as a Second Language education and students with individual education plans (IEPs). A joint task force will also be created to help further strengthen BPS inclusion practices and policies
- Combatting Student Homelessness: A $100,000 investment from the City of Boston to combat student homelessness, including the creation of a city-wide commission to address student homelessness
- Hub Community Schools: A commitment from the City of Boston to hire a city-wide full-time Hub Community Schools Coordinator. Hub Community Schools provide wraparound services to ensure that Boston Public Schools students and families are connected to transportation, medical care, food resources, and clothing resources. Research has shown that this model can have a positive impact on the most vulnerable students
- Improved Early Childhood Education: A full-time paraprofessional for all K2 classes city-wide
- Raises to Retain BPS Educators: A 2% raise for educators in each of the three year, retroactive to fiscal year 2019, with a potential raise to 2.5% for one year, in either FY20 or FY21, contingent on the outcome of further negotiations
- Compensation to promote equity for lower-paid educators in the form of a $1 increase to the base pay of paraprofessionals. This results in, for example, an increase from $19.24 per hour to $20.62 per hour
- Additional commitments to promote ethnic studies along with culturally and linguistically relevant curriculum across the district, including more bilingual teaching classroom resources
The agreement also takes steps to even further reduce the number of educators on temporary assignments who enter the temporary assignment pool due to events beyond their control such as school closures or reorganizations.
Some public reports have previously mischaracterized these educators as “unassigned” when in fact they go to work serving the students of BPS every day on temporary assignments while awaiting long-term placements within BPS that leverage their talents for the benefit of students and school communities.
Under the agreement, BPS and BTU will pilot an initiative that guarantees interviews to these experienced educators who apply to a minimum positions for which they are qualified. Many educators have voiced concerns that teachers on temporary assignments may have been denied interviews based on their age. The pilot will also temporarily suspend building-based attachment rights for educators who are hired into long-term positions after they have been in the temporary assignment workforce for one year.
The four bargaining units of the Boston Teachers Union – teachers, paraprofessionals, substitutes, and applied behavioral analysts – must vote in favor of ratification before the agreement can take effect. That vote is scheduled for June 12. Additionally, the agreement must be approved by the School Committee.
# # #
The Boston Teachers Union proudly represents more than 10,000 teachers and other professionals including school nurses, psychologists, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, and substitute teachers. Together, we advocate for the interests of students, parents and education professionals throughout the Boston Public Schools. We support investment in public education to ensure a stronger future for our students and our city. As a union of educators, we are part of a movement that seeks to improve the quality of life for all working people. We are united against all forms of prejudice and bigotry that would seek to devalue the lives or liberties of our students, families or colleagues.