The Everett Teachers Association (ETA) and the School Committee have finally resolved a long-standing contract dispute after more than 18 months of negotiations.
ETA President Kim Auger said the teachers ratified the contract in a landslide vote of 397-46 recently, and the contract was approved by the School Committee on Monday night. It is retroactive to last year, and is a three-year contract expiring in 2021.
“We are extremely happy,” said Auger. “This is finally done after one and a half years of negotiations…We’re moving forward as an association…It’s the friendliest contract I’ve ever been able to bring back in all my years of doing this.”
School Committeeman Frank Parker said it is a very good contract.
“It’s probably the most teacher-friendly contract we’ve ever negotiated or agreed upon,” he said. “It took a long time getting there, but a lot of that had to do with the financial situations we’ve had in the School Department.”
He said resolving the contract was a priority for Chair Tom Abruzzese, and so they set out to work on it throughout the winter and spring.
He also said that Assistant Supt. Kevin Shaw deserved accolades for understanding the importance of changing the school year.
“A lot of it has to do with Mr. Shaw,” said Parker. “He has been a principal and knows what it’s like to have a school full of teachers and students in late June.”
While teachers do see a 2 percent raise in each year of the contract, Auger said it was the change in the numbers of school days that was a key part of the contract.
She said for a long time Everett has had the longest school year of most any district, with 189 teacher days and 186 student days. The state requirement is 180 days, and most other districts hold to that requirement.
She said in exchange for taking the days down to 180, they will add 15 minutes to the school day.
For teachers, the school days will be from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
For students, it will be 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
That will begin in September with the new school term.
“We’re going to go back to the 180 days and transfer the instructional time to each school day,” she said.
That change was important enough to hold out for more than a year, she said.
“People wanted that time back, and that was our main thing when negotiating,” said Auger. “They wanted that more than money. They let it be known to our negotiating team that the time back was worth holding out for. It helped everyone in the end.”
While teachers wanted to get out of school earlier in June, they also said having extra time during the “meat” of the school year is more valuable to students than having extra days in June.