The Boston Teachers Union and the School Department reached a tentative contract agreement late Tuesday night that if approved, will lead to changes in class sizes, teacher performance evaluations, and a new pay raise structure, ending the 27-month long negotiations between the two parties.
"The agreement is good for students, affordable to the city, and fair to our members," said Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union in a statement.
“This contract is a big step forward in taking our school system to the next level – it’s what’s best for our students, it works for our teachers, and is fair to our taxpayers,” said Mayor Thomas Menino. “Teachers will now have the support they need to perform, schools will have the flexibility they need to succeed, and most importantly, students will be closer to having the district they need to grow and compete.”
The new evaluation process would use student test scores to calculate a teacher's performance. If teachers are rated "unsatisfactory," they will be inelligible for pay raises and could be on a faster track to termination.
The agreement is still tentative, because it must be approved by the union’s membership and the Boston School Committee before it becomes official. The teachers union will next meet in October to vote on the agreement.
The negotiation process has taken 27 months to reach this point, with previous roadblocks related to an expansion of the school day by 45 minutes, then more recently on disagreements regarding wages and a new teacher evaluation system.
Two weeks ago, the Boston Teachers Union made a move to break the most recent stalemate by proposing to accept the Boston School Department’s position on wage increases if the School Department agreed to the new teacher evaluation system and reduced class sizes, among other items.
"We want nothing more and nothing less than a school system that delivers the highest quality education to our 57,000 students," said Stutman. "We have accomplished that, and we look forward to continuing our progress."
The tentative agreement includes:
- A streamlined evaluation system that uses student growth and parent feedback as a measure of progress to help good teachers become great and make sure students are learning. For the first time, new teachers who receive an unsatisfactory evaluation will not be eligible for step (salary) increases.
- Staffing and hiring flexibility so school leaders can select the right teacher for every classroom, replacing an outdated seniority-driven system.
- A 12 percent salary increase over six years to lift the current average salary well above today’s $81,633.
- Scheduling flexibility to give Boston Public Schools greater control over the professional development teachers receive.
- Lower class size limits and more support staff for lower-performing schools in targeted grades to drive performance.
- Strengthened student and parent input with increased student presence on high school school-site councils. Parent presence on the councils will more closely reflect the diversity of the student population in the school – both in terms of demographics and also student needs.