Published On: December 5, 2014

Good day, and I hope you have had a Merry Christmas.

Today I am pleased to announce that after eight months of on again, off again negotiations, the Boston Teachers Union, the Boston School Department, and Mayor Marty Walsh have reached a tentative agreement (TA) on a school day extension, which compensates our members at $4,464 per year.

Our entire office staff and negotiating team participated in this process and have unanimously endorsed the tentative agreement.

The TA is subject to membership ratification, and that vote will take place on January 14, 2015, at 4:30, at the BTU Hall.

The school day extension, we believe, will help our students by offering well-planned, school-based instruction that promotes teaching and learning while allowing for increased participation in a variety of under-served subject areas, such as art, music, drama and foreign language.

The extension will affect 55 schools (called Schedule A schools) eventually, roughly 17 to 20 starting in September 2015, and the remaining schools spread out over 2016 and 2017. The TA calls for a daily 40-minute school day extension co-designed by staff and administrators and implemented by a joint planning process. To support the planning of the extension, 400 teacher facilitators, who will receive $1,000 yearly, will be chosen from staff and selected by the School Site Council to lead a 40-minute weekly P & D session for teachers. The 40-minute block is in addition to the current allotment.

Schools partaking in the extension will be all of the system’s K-8s and all elementary and middle schools, provided they are not currently identified as Pilot schools, Innovation schools, Turnaround Schools, Turnaround-hybrid schools, Level 5 schools, ELT schools, the McKinleys, and Project Promise.

The list of Schedule A schools and the actual agreement will be released shortly, probably early next week, as the TA is finalized.

Although the negotiations on ELT have intensified in recent weeks, the issue has never actually been far from our minds since September 12, 2012, when we signed the current collective bargaining agreement. You may remember we could not reach agreement 28 months ago with the previous city and school administration on the length, scope, rationale, and compensation of the then-live ELT proposal. In this agreement, we have collectively agreed on all such components, and for that we appreciate the collaborative process that brought about this agreement.

We see the extension of the school day as a part of what we need to make our schools more attractive and competitive. We approached this extension with the following principles in mind:

  • We have a shared focus on improving student learning and achievement by providing students with a wider variety of academic and enrichment options within their school day.
  • We agree that in expanding instructional and student leaning time, the quality of extended daily learning and teaching time is as important as the quantity thereof.
  • We agree that that collaboration within the school community is the key to the parties’ success in achieving a quality ELT program.

Here are the highlights of the TA:

  • All Schedule A schools will have their teacher and paraprofessional work day extended 40 minutes.
  • The time will be used for the teaching of academic subjects and other subjects such as arts, drama, foreign language, and so on. There will be real, collaborative discussions at the school level to design the time appropriately.
  • Paras will receive their current hourly wage for the extension
  • Teachers will receive $4464 ($37.20 per hour) added to their base salary, which will be known as a Schedule A grid. The new salary will be retirement-worthy and severance-worthy. This additional base salary shall also be subject to the yearly COLA.
  • Teachers who participate will receive an annual supply budget of $200 to help implement the school day extension.
  • Teachers will receive two additional weekly blocks of planning time:

1) A weekly 40-minute block of teacher-led and teacher-facilitated planning time to be used to help plan the ELT. Should this 40-minute block of time not materialize in a given week, the teacher shall be compensated $28.30 for the lost time.

2) An additional weekly 35-minute block of P&D time is to be added to the current allotment. This 35-minute block can be broken down to 7 additional minutes per day, five days per week. Altogether Schedule A teachers shall receive an additional 75 minutes of planning time weekly.

(Incidentally, ALL P&D time (not just these two “blocks”) that for one reason or another is missed is subject to being compensated at the same rate, 1/5 of the substitute teaching rate, unless the time is made up by the end of the work week.)

  • Itinerant teachers will be able to meet with their ‘core’ colleagues with 6 hours of substitute coverage per year to help plan and coordinate the implementation of the ELT.
  • Itinerant teachers assigned to Schedule A schools shall work the extended day and shall be compensated on a pro-rata basis.
  • All Itinerant staff shall be given their schedule for a given school year on or before August 15.
  • Schools currently in schedule A are grandfathered into this new schedule and salary grid in the event they either voluntarily or involuntarily leave that status. What does this mean in practical terms?

For example: Let’s say the Smith School, currently a Schedule A school, elects to become an Innovation or a Pilot school and adopts the typical Innovation or Pilot School schedule, which calls for a school day extension of 145 hours. A Pilot or Innovation school teacher is by contract compensated $2350 for those 145 hours. Under the terms of the TA, however, the Smith School is ‘grandfathered’ as a Schedule A school, and its salary for the same 145 hours would be $4464 or an additional $2114 per teacher per year.

One more example: Let’s say the Jones school, currently in Schedule A, falls into Turnaround status and becomes the Jones Turnaround School. Currently under the rules imposed by the state, a typical Turnaround school gets paid $4,100 for 190 hours of extra work. Under our TA, the Jones Turnaround School staff would receive $5,975, an additional $1,875 for the same 190 hours.

There is one additional offshoot to the above. A school currently not in schedule A but otherwise eligible (e.g., Channing, Winthrop) will — once it leaves Turnaround Status — revert instantaneously to Schedule A BEFORE going to any other status, thereby insuring that it is locked into a better compensation model than where it might be heading.

While some of the status-change language directly above is “too much into the weeds,” the reality is that we have seen more than 20 schools in the last 5 years move to a new status that has deprived many of our members legitimate compensation, not to mention their collective bargaining rights. We are very likely to continue to see schools change status at the same rate over the next few years. The TA we have will not prevent the exodus of schools, unfortunately, but it will insure that it many cases, our members in those schools will receive fairer compensation.

We have tried to get traction to help move earlier the start and end time of Tier 3 schools, those which today end their student day at3:30. There is strong will on all sides to get this accomplished, and the negotiating teams spent hours discussing this, examining alternate bus schedules, and the shifting and re-shifting of school starting times. In the end it was not to be. Moving the late schools even 15 minutes earlier causes a ripple effect that does one of two things: 1) forces early schools have to start at 7:15, which places some students on a bus at 6; or 2) adds dozens of new bus runs, which will cost $2.4 million. The long and the short if it is, moving school starting times up even 15 minutes is unworkable for now.

What we did instead — and we know it of small consolation only — is eliminate the requirement that the 18 hours of PD last two hours. We also placed the PD schedule in Schedule A schools once again back into the hands of staff for a faculty vote. Staff now will be able to eliminate those 2-hour sessions at the end of a school day by breaking them down to, for example, 18 one-hour sessions to be held at the beginning of a school day. This will help somewhat with the school day extension at the end of the day.

Finally, we recognize that given the public mood and the possibility of legislative action from a variety of sources, we thought it advisable to take the initiative to carve out a school day extension plan we felt comfortable with, rather than have one we didn’t want imposed on us. Towards that goal, we have worked diligently to come up with a plan that offers a benefit to our students, with input from all parties, and with respect to our membership. We understand that not all will be happy with the direction we have taken, but given the reality of what we face, we believe we have come up with a good plan.

Thank you for your consideration.

The BTU Online
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