There were a lot of back and forths between the city and the union over who walked away from the negotiating process. Read more about that in a previous BTU post. The School Department has been silent on all of the above, and is led in negotiations by a consultant who works for it one day per week. The superintendent is strangely absent from all of the above.
In the midst of all this, the mayor took a swipe at the BTU negotiating team saying that the issue we’re fighting for is an issue that 95% of our members have no interest in:
‘The thing that bothers me is the supermajority of the average teacher, probably 95 percent of the teachers that teach in Boston Public Schools, what we are looking to fix has no effect on their life at all,’ Walsh told the Herald. ‘I am not sure if the union actually presented it to their membership.’
We have three major issues at hand that are stalling progress: Improving staffing and support in Inclusion Classes; protecting the placement rights of excessed teachers; and granting BTU members pay equity with other unions who have already settled. As you know, we have written about these issues in our eBulletin numerous times and have discussed them during our membership meetings.
The mayor was talking specifically about one issue, however: Do members excessed as a result of Turnaround Schools, school closures, programmatic changes and so on have a right to a position before a new hire?
Currently there are hundreds of teachers excessed as a result of Brighton and Excel High Schools each going into Turnaround status, the Mattahunt being closed, and the Dever being transformed into post-Level 5 status. A few staff from these schools have found positions, while most have not.
Add to the above the many more teachers excessed as a result of programmatic changes, and we have 330 teachers today looking for placement. (By the way, last year the department hired close to 600 new teachers. An additional 500-600 new teachers are expected to be hired for the upcoming school year.)
Given that we have over 50 schools currently at Level 3 status, one step away from Turnaround status and wholesale excessing, the BTU has long taken the position – and will continue to do so – that our incumbent members in these schools deserve to be employed before brand new hires. The real probability of many school closings on the horizon only adds to our concern.
The department’s proposal is to pay excessed teachers for one year at full pay, and thereafter at the reduced wages of either a paraprofessional or substitute teacher. Those who don’t get chosen for a teaching position after a year or two would be terminated.
We have rejected their proposals.
The mayor says that the BTU negotiating team doesn’t speak for our members, and he says that for “probably 95 percent of the teachers that teach in Boston Public Schools, what we are looking to fix has no effect on their life at all.” We disagree. We think our team speaks emphatically for our membership on this issue.
This week we are polling our membership to ask this question:
Year after year, hundreds of our members are excessed, often because of school closings and turnarounds. Should the BTU Negotiating Team continue to protect the rights of teachers who have been excessed?
We will post poll results soon. Thank you.