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LETTER: $600,000 in Administrative Positions Added, Teachers Contract Still Unsettled

Framingham Teachers Association responds to budget letter by Framingham Superintendent of Schools.

In a made inaccurate statements about how teacher compensation occurs in the Framingham Public Schools and its impact on the school budget.

We view our current contract negotiations as an opportunity to work jointly to make improvements to our schools – including reducing class sizes – that will benefit our students.

In our negotiations, we have been discussing many items along with salaries.
The Framingham Teachers Association finds it unfortunate that the Superintendent is focused almost solely with the financial aspects of education and not how to improve our school system.

The FTA offers the following corrections:

• Framingham teachers have faced dramatic increases in healthcare costs. Along with every other municipal association in the town (Police, Fire, DPW, etc.), the teachers voted to increase the contribution rate of the employees by six percent. After this occurred, a new state law passed, allowing municipalities to redesign healthcare plans. As a result, the town was able to reduce its healthcare liability by about $1.8 million dollars. These savings were accomplished by shifting the cost directly to employees in the form of deductibles and increased copays.

• Movement on the teacher salary schedule is NOT automatic. There are educational requirements For example; some steps require a teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree or a Master’s Degree to earn six graduate credits to
receive a step raise. If they do not, then the teacher will not move steps.

• Teachers must pay out of pocket for graduate course credits. A teacher must earn graduate credits to earn increases in salary. In addition to the step requirement above, each “lane change” only occurs when a teacher has earned 15 graduate credits that have been approved by the school district. The individual cost associated with earning 15 graduate credits can be anywhere from $5,000 at a state school to $10,000 or more at a private college or university.

• Many teaching positions have been lost and replaced with supervisory or administrative positions. Central administration now has more administrators than it has in the past few years. Along with the new superintendent, there has been the addition of a new Director of Educational Operation, an interim Director of Curriculum and Instruction and the potential hiring of a new Assistant Superintendent. The combined salaries of these four individuals approach $600,000. Replacing teaching positions with administrators and supervisory support is not the solution to many of the problems.

• Inaccurate description of Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA). In FY 2012, the teachers agreed to 0% COLA and to not change lanes until the 93rd day. In FY 2011, the teachers were slated to receive 3% COLA. However, the teachers agreed to take two furlough days, so the actual salary increase the school department paid was a net 1.88%. In FY 2008, the teachers received 1.25% COLA on the 91 st day. In FY 2009, 2010, the teachers received 3% and 3.25% respectively.

• Use of uncommon examples to depict the typical teacher’s compensation. It is a rare occurrence for a member of the staff to be eligible for a lane change and a step raise within one school year. The Superintendent did not provide hard numbers for his example and so the FTA has formally requested this information for full transparency. The administration has yet to respond. To make this sound commonplace is just plain false.

• The town of Framingham does NOT contribute to teacher retirement. We pay 11% of our salary into the state retirement system, not the town retirement system. The town actually saves a substantial amount of money on this item by not having to contribute.

Framingham Teacher Association

Submitted by FTA President Sam Miskin

Mary Gonzales January 17, 2013 at 03:42 AM
How long have the teachers been without a contract?
dan gaurino January 17, 2013 at 06:09 PM
I'm tired of the teachers complaining they are not paid enough. Let's see they start in August (some still after Labor Day). They get a week off in December, get a week off in February, get a week off in April and have 8 weeks off between June and Labor Day. Okay please tell me any other job that gets that may weeks off per year??? Most teachers in Framingham have 90% paid health care. Do you have that from your employer? The only thing I agree with the union is why hire all these administrators if the goal is to teach the kids? If you have extra money hire more teachers right out of college. Give a recent graduate a job and hire less bosses and more teachers. Think of how many graduates could be hired with $400,000 - 8-10 new teachers???
Andrea Dunne Adrian January 18, 2013 at 10:29 PM
Maybe one of the teachers from the Framingham Teachers' Association can answer the question many parents have (the very parents the teachers are looking for back-up from): why is punishing and refusing extra help to the kids, helpful in getting the contract dispute settled? I think it's a terrible way to go about "negotiating".
Linda Dunbrack January 19, 2013 at 12:13 AM
There is some bad (or at least incomplete) math in this letter, and some deceptive statements that I think require some clarification. You can't have it both ways Mr. Miskin. If you want to say that effectively had a 1.88% raise in 2011, then you have to concede that you effectively had a 1.12% raise in 2012. In addition, the people who had deferred steps/lane changes received 100% of them the next year, so they still got those raises, just a little bit later, and if they were due another step increase, they got that too. Also, my recollection is that only 2 or 3 of the 10 steps require any Masters degree credits at all to obtain, far less than is implied by the letter. It is absolutely *not rare for a teacher to be due a step and a lane change in the same year. In fact, with young teachers with bachelor's degrees, it is bound to happen at least once in their first 5 years. Many teachers with take that plunge into M+15 before they hit the maximum step as well. Concessions on health insurance were only made after the health care coalition was under pressure due to municipal health reform, whereby the state would have acted as an arbitrator if an agreement could not have been reached. Coming to an agreement was in the best interests of employees, because they risked losing more.
Carol Sanchez January 19, 2013 at 06:57 PM
Have the rules changed? Union negotiations have always been the best kept secret in Town. I was led to believe that discussions of negotiations were "against the law". In all my years of following the school committee and union negotiations, about 12 years now, I've never seen this much PUBLIC disclosure, as I've seen this year. Again, has something changed?

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