The Boston Herald ran a report on Tuesday on two of our major outstanding issues at the bargaining table (pay equity at autonomous schools and improving services in inclusion classes), and the the school district fired back on Wednesday with a few bits of, let’s call it, curious logic. Here’s what the district said, as reported in the Herald:

The BTU’s proposal to create a uniform pay stipend for autonomous schools ‘could potentially disrupt the success’ at the institutions, the district said, and the organization’s call for a mandatory two teachers to one classroom ratio for inclusion classrooms would undermine the district’s efforts to maintain flexibility when it comes to shifting resources within schools….

Let’s dissect these points one at a time:

Pay in autonomous schools

We are seeking to cut down on the number of uncompensated hours at autonomous schools. Specifically, we wish to cut the number of uncompensated hours for all staff in autonomous schools from 95 to 75 to 55 to 35 over a four-year period. This proposal, if agreed to, would add 20 hours’ pay to each teacher yearly for four years. The total work year would remain the same, but an increasing number of hours each year would be compensated.

The district says paying people more will disrupt the success of their schools presumably because the additional money for the 20 hours’ pay would have to come out of the school’s current operating budget. We are not proposing to do that. The added compensation would come out of “fresh” or new city funds, just like Schedule A funding was added to all schools in Schedule A. In other words, the additional funds needed wouldn’t come out of the school’s budget – they’d be added to the school’s budget, as all other newly-negotiated items are. Long story short, every contract “cost” item has new funds attached to it. Paying people equitably and what they should get paid doesn’t threaten a school’s success at all.

Improving inclusion language

We are seeking to improve staffing ratios and support in inclusion schools. But doing these things, the district told the Herald, would undermine the district’s efforts to maintain flexibility. If adding staff and improving support services undermines flexibility, then we’re all for it. Our plan allows schools to decide how best to implement newly-negotiated, and improved, class size maxima as well as increased paraprofessional support in inclusion schools.

We are at a pivotal point in negotiations. The showing we have at the Bolling Building this Wednesday, March 22, will help determine whether and when we settle these negotiations. We need your help. We will not be successful without it.