FRAMINGHAM – Perhaps you’ve seen Framingham educators standing outside the Memorial Building with signs before School Committee meetings on Wednesday nights, or you’ve noticed posts on social media pertaining to negotiations and wondered what’s going on.
We know that Framingham cares deeply about its school system, and we wanted to update the community on the status of our current contract negotiations with the School Committee.
Framingham Public Schools’ educators have been working without a contract since September 1, 2021.
It is easy to think that the FTA’s contract negotiations boil down only to dollars and cents, but that is not the case.
When teachers consider what is most important in this process, the experiences of the students are always the priority.
As educators negotiate, we are thinking about what will attract the best candidates to the many vacant positions around the district so that our students have the most prepared teachers guiding their learning.
Our staff also want to be sure that those same highly qualified educators stay in Framingham classrooms, as continuity is important for our learners and for the growth of our schools.
Teachers want to work in a district where we are valued and supported, where morale is high, and where there is consistency in staffing.
As students have returned to learning in our school buildings, our staff have seen the dire needs of our preK-12 population. Our students are struggling to return to this “new normal,” and the mental health and social/emotional challenges faced by Framingham’s children have never been felt so acutely.
Our special educators and support staff are stretched thin due to high caseloads and the accommodations needed to help our diverse learners. This is a time when small class sizes and increased staffing and supports are essential to meeting the critical needs of our students.
We know these needs are not unique to Framingham, but while other neighboring districts are facing the same challenges, they’re also demonstrating a deeper understanding of the increased demands on educators as well as the current economic climate.
We understand the current fiscal constraints on the city, which is why we would be willing to accept a lower cost of living adjustment (COLA) in the first year with the understanding that the following two years would offset it, and we have offered that in our recent proposals.
However, the School Committee’s current proposal of a total of 3.75% over 3 years does not begin to address the true costs of living, especially since the country saw the largest rise in inflation in 40 years at 6.8%.
This is the type of contract that, when compared with those of neighboring communities, will make highly qualified new educators less likely to choose Framingham– and push our current staff to look elsewhere. That hurts all of us: property owners, parents, educators, and, most importantly, students.
If you’d like to get involved to help keep our school system strong, here are some actions that will make a difference:
- Write to the School Committee stating that you support a fair contract for Framingham educators. You can direct your email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Join us outside of the Memorial Building in the evening before the School Committee meetings on Wednesdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
The FTA Unit A Bargaining Team
Am Cecil Fuoti