UPDATED: Framingham School Committee Unanimously Approves 3-Year Teachers Contract Worth $10 Million

FRAMINGHAM – The 9-member Framingham School Committee voted 8-0 to ratify a new 3-year contract for the Framingham Teachers Association’s Unit A union tonight, Wednesday, January 16 at its meeting in City Hall, with Mayor Yvonne Spicer voting in favor, as well. It was the Mayor’s first official vote on the School Committee.

District 2 School Committee member Ricky Finlay did not vote, as his wife is an employee of the Framingham Public Schools. District 7 School Committee member Tiffanie Maskell did not attend the meeting, until after the vote.

The largest of the three Framingham Teachers Association unions at 927 members, the contract is for 3 years, starting July 1, 2018.

It provided a 6.65 percent increase for members over that 3-year period, but also changes the hours the members work.

The District has a handful of units that require negotiated contracts, including an administrators and a custodians contract. Three of the units are under the Framingham Teachers Association. This new contract is just for “Unit A” for the FTA.

2018-19 Increase steps and lanes 1.5%

2019-20 Increase steps and lanes 3.5%

2020-21 Increase steps and lanes 1.65%

“Our contract is a total of 6.65%, but, most importantly, does not include a mere cost adjustment. Instead, the 2019-2020 3.5 percent is not a COLA (cost of living allowance) but rather compensates teachers for an unprecedented change in working conditions. which the district believes will strongly support student achievement and equity,” said the district leadership.

The new collective bargaining agreement changes the hours members of unit A work as of 2019-2020 school year.

Currently, the elementary school day is 6 hours of instructional time, whereas middle school is 6 hours and 45 minutes of instructional time, and high school is 6 hours and 55 minutes of instructional time.

As a result of this new agreement, elementary teachers will work an additional 46.25 hours each per year, resulting in an additional 22,000 hours of instruction per year for our elementary students, said Assistant Superintendent of Schools Inna London.

“Because all teachers will work a 7 hour work day as a result of the Agreeement, there will be time for teacher co-planning and collaboration, which are research-based effective teaching practices that are essential to the improvement in the education of our children,” said the district.  

The cost of the contract is $2.669 million in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, explained School Committee Chair Adam Freudberg.

“That money was already budgeted and approved by the City Council, and the Mayor,” said Adam Freudberg.

In fiscal year 2020, which is the 2019-2020 school year, the cost is $4.375 million, explained Freudberg.

The City Council will vote later this spring on the Framingham Public Schools fiscal year 2020 budget.

The Council, under state law, has no say in the bargaining agreement with the Framingham Teachers Association.

The 11-member City Council does have the authority to lower any not approved the school budget from the mayor’s recommendation, if they choose, but that does not change the negotiated contract.

In fiscal year 2021, which is the 2020-21 school year, the cost is $2.972 million, explained Freudberg,

As part of this new contract, each elementary child’s instructional day will increase by 15 minutes daily.

“The new elementary schedule will specify at least 90 minutes of literacy and 60 minutes of math every day, from which students may not be pulled. A daily intervention and enrichment period will provide extra help for struggling students and offer opportunities for enrichment. Teachers will have common planning time opportunities daily to ensure that every student receives the same instruction regardless of teacher or school. In addition, identical schedules will allow for regrouping by student needs during small-group instruction to allow for differentiated instruction and interventions.,” said the district.

The contract “provides equity in instruction throughout the district. In addition, creates equity in workload throughout the district as all teachers will work a 7 hour work day regardless of level,” states documents associated with the new contract.

It is unclear at this time if start times will be later or if dismissal times would be later for 2019-2020 school year. 

Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay said his administration will be working on new elementary school start and end times, and he plans to have them to parents early, before the end of this school year, so they can deal with before and after school care.

Tremblay said this time change may also help with the “transportation issues” with students getting to school on time, due to the bus situation.

The Framingham Teachers Association and the School Committee began interest-based bargaining (IBB) negotiations for a new contract starting in May 2018. The negotiations were completed in August 2018. Since then, the parties have been working to finalize the language of the Memorandum of Agreement for Unit A and School Committee ratification, according to the district administration.

On the negotiation team for the School Committee was Freudberg, District 1 School Committee member Beverly Hugo, and District 3 Scott Wadland.
Freudberg said the City of Framingham’s Chief Financial Officer Mary Ellen Kelley gave the School Committee “guidance” for a contract of 6 percent over 3 years.

“For FY20 and FY21, Framingham Public Schools leadership has and continues to proactively work these new statistics into their long term planning budget documents and has found cost savings elsewhere. It is important to note that Chapter 70 funding from the state, as well as grant funding covers sizable portions of salaries, reducing the local impact,” said the district. “Throughout the bargaining process FPS has collaborated with the City of Framingham’s Chief Financial Officer on the details and for long term financial planning purposes.”

“Studies show that teacher absences in excess of 10 days per year greatly impact student performance; when teacher absences are coupled with student absences, the education of our children suffers markedly. Moreover, the cost of substitutes creates a drain on limited resources. In the previous CBA (2015-2018), teachers who attended evening conferences received an unrestricted comp day, which resulted in high absenteeism around holidays. The elimination of the evening conferences will improve teacher attendance,” wrote the district in documents on the web site.

“In an attempt to curb teacher absenteeism even further, the new CBA reduces the number of sick days for which a doctor’s note needs to be provided, allows the district to request doctor’s notes when an absence abuts a holiday or long weekend, and enables the district to investigate the appearance of abuse of sick time in instances where a teacher has been absent for 10 or more non-cumulative days,” stated the district in documents on the web site.

The contract provides an incentive for members who announce their intent to retire at the end of a school year.  It lowers the amount from 17 to 10 sick days, in the time period from January 1 until the end of the school year unless they have a medically documented issue.

“This particular line has only to do with members who have announced their retirement and are intending to buy back sick days accrued,” said union leadership.

Correction: The original Source report indicted the number of sick days was lowered for all Unit A members. Source has updated the report to show only for the retirement issue.

The new contract “also celebrates the diversity of our staff by establishing equity among genders by instituting a uniform parental leave for teachers for the purpose of giving birth to and/or receiving a newly born infant or for the placement of a child under the age of 18, or under the age of 23 if the child is disabled, for adoption, surrogacy, or foster or court ordered placement. Furthermore, in an attempt ensure equity of workload and consequent optimum services for children, the CBA forms a committee to study the workload of special educators, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists, social workers, etc. In seeking to improve our hiring practices, a committee will be generated under the purview of the CBA to examine potential incentives for hard-to-fill positions (i.e. special educators, science and math teachers, bilingual teachers, etc.),” stated the district.

The contract also “revises the language for reductions in the teacher force, allowing teachers’ performance and skills (i.e. language skills), rather than mere seniority, to play a role in theretention of teachers in situations where layoffs may occur. This language reforms the district’s ability to keep high performing teachers in order to provide equitable and outstanding instruction to all students.”

““22,000 additional instructional hours for elementary students. More time for co-planning, professional development, and family engagement. Higher compensation to retain and reward our educators for new workload requirements. Work parity across elementary, middle, and high school levels. Expanding parental leave options. Tools to reduce absenteeism. Full alignment with the district’s strategic plan and long term financial strategy. All of this and more resulted in a fair, equitable, and transformational long term contract with the Framingham Teachers Association,” said Freudberg. “This achievement launches a new era for our students and community as we work to address challenges and create opportunities for all who touch the Framingham Public Schools. I expect the implementation of these collaborative changes will set the tone over the next few years and continuously improve our already strong school district. Thank you to the FTA and FPS for your hard work during more than 50 hours of negotiations, and to all who work in our school district.”

The Framingham Mayor said she learned a lot about the process.

“Diversity is critically important,” said Mayor Yvonne Spicer about the portion of the contract that targets hiring more diverse staff.

“This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Teachers who feel supported and valued. … This is an opportunity to work collaboratively together.”

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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