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Teachers Union, city agree on new contract

Trea Lavery
Teachers Union, city agree on new contract
Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang rallies teachers during a March action at the Bolling Building. BANNER PHOTO

The Boston Teachers Union signed a new, tentative agreement last week that will raise the pay for school staff and provide more critical resources for students across the city, including school nurses, mental health workers and paraprofessionals.

The three-year contract, signed Thursday, will go into effect if approved by teachers, paraprofessionals, substitutes and applied behavioral analysts in a vote on June 12, as well as by the School Committee.

“This agreement takes significant steps to address critical student needs that educators and families have long advocated for,” said Jessica Tang, president of the BTU, in a statement. “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.”

The previous agreement between the BTU and Boston Public Schools expired in August. Current negotiations have been rushed in order to be finished before the end of the school year and the end of Interim Superintendent Laura Perille’s time as head of the district.

While the contract does contain some compromises, every school throughout BPS will now have a full-time nurse on staff, a change for which the union and other education activists have been fighting. The district will also hire 23 new licensed mental health providers, including school psychologists, social workers and guidance counselors, and a full-time paraprofessional for all kindergarten classes. There will also be additional staffing for inclusion classrooms, which includes English as a Second Language education and students with individual education plans, or IEPs.

Other programs include changes to curriculum across the city to include ethnic studies and other culturally relevant learning and a $100,000 investment from the city to address student homelessness, including the creation of a commission on the issue, a joint task force to strengthen inclusion practices and policies, and a new, full-time coordinator for Hub Community Schools, a program that connects students and families with transportation, medical care and food and clothing resources.

In addition, the agreement will give educators a 2 percent raise in each of the three years, retroactive to fiscal year 2019, the time in which the union did not have a contract. Paraprofessionals also will receive a raise, with base pay going from $19.24 to $20.62 per hour.

“This agreement provides an opportunity for continued engagement with the community as we develop our shared priorities for strategic investments on behalf of the students and families of the Boston Public Schools,” said Brenda Cassellius, the school committee’s hiree for the superintendent position, in a statement. Cassellius begins the job on July 1.

The agreement was also praised by Perille, Mayor Martin Walsh, City Council President Andrea Campbell and members of the BPS community citywide.

“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,” Tang said. “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.”

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