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Milton teachers, administrators ratify three-year contract

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  January 10, 2014 04:26 PM

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Milton teachers now have a three-year contract that contains salary increases each year and establishes new teacher-evaluation criteria.

Margaret Gibbons, the Milton High School nurse and president of the Milton Educators Association, said the teachers ratified the contract Tuesday, and the School Committee did so on Wednesday.

“It is unfortunate we didn’t start a school year with a contract in place, but there were some complicated issues,” Gibbons said.

The contract allows for a two percent salary raise retroactive to the beginning of this school year (Sept. 1, 2013), and a two percent raise for the 2014-2015 school year. A one percent raise will be given at the start of 2015-16 year, with an additional one percent midway through the year.

Leroy Walker, lead negotiator and vice chairman of the Milton School Committee, said the salary is competitive for the region while still being fiscally responsible for the town.

Other contract changes include the addition of a spring parent/teacher conference and additional professional development days.

Previously, teachers were given two full-day professional development days. Going forward, high school teachers will receive an additional four half-days for professional development in 2014, with elementary and middle school teachers to receive two. In 2015, all grades will have four half-day professional development days.

“The additional time is a significant improvement,” Walker said. “We have some enrichment programs we’re implementing, a new evaluation tool statewide we need to orient teachers on, and in Milton we have advancement initiatives…those as well will require additional professional development.”

The contract also solidifies new teacher evaluation procedures. Though much of the law was mandated by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Gibbons said teachers were able to negotiate some criteria.

“We bargained over some timelines, and numbers, what constituted a classroom observation. Other pieces [we’ll] just had to live with,” Gibbons said.

Training on the new evaluation will start within a month.

Contract negotiation has been ongoing since March for the 325 teachers in the association. The most recent three-year contract expired Aug. 31. Negotiations are ongoing for other subsets of the Massachusetts Educators Association.

Gibbons characterized negotiations as lengthy and rigorous, with an outcome largely dependent on teacher solidarity.

“They rallied around the negotiating team and crisis team like I’ve never seen,” Gibbons said. “They were the reason it came to fruition.”

Though Walker said the 10-month negotiation was quick compared with other municipalities, he, too, thanked the teachers for their dedication.

“We’re fortunate to have a group of teachers that shares the same commitment to excellence that we do,” he said.

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