Teachers Wear Black to Protest Contract Stall at Back to School Meeting

Teachers wear black at this morning’s day-before-school general staff meeting at DiBurro’s, Ward Hill.

A majority of Haverhill public school teachers dressed in black as they reported to a general staff meeting Monday morning—the day before Haverhill students return to classes.

A packed crowd of teachers and other school district faculty and administrators turned out at DiBurro’s Function Facilities, Ward Hill, for their annual day-before-school gathering with Superintendent James F. Scully and other district leaders. An estimated 500 out of 700 members of the Haverhill Education Association (HEA) responded to a request from union leaders to wear black as another round of contract negotiations with a school committee team is expected to take place Sept. 9. HEA First Vice President Ted Kempinski, negotiation committee chairman, told WHAV members dressed in black in mourning for concessions sought by the district he described as “too much and (they) give nothing in return.”

“’We actually want you to give back more, we want you to come to work earlier for no increase in money, we want you to give up prep time that we can control’—the school can control instead of us preparing for kids. And the members dressed in black in mourning for all of these things they’ve been asked for because it’s not helping education. And our members who are typically kid-centered all the time are saying, ‘enough is enough,’” Kempinski said.

However, Kempinski said, teachers “will be there for the kids” when classes begin Tuesday.

“We didn’t get in this job necessarily to get rich. That’s not why we do that. There’s no bonuses in our paychecks, or anything like that. We’re here for the kids. Yes, we’d like a living wage, yes we’d like to do that. But the kids, honestly most every teacher is here because of the kids. They’re here because of what we can do to help and be part of the future,” Kempinski said.

Kempinski said the real people they ultimately want to reach with their message are community members.

“We’re also trying to tell the community, ‘what do you want for the future of Haverhill education?’ We want more, the teacher have been saying, ‘we need more.’ That’s not just fair wages, it’s better funding, it’s better schools. These are the things we’re trying to get out, I don’t know how effective that message is,” Kempinski said.

The group, representing teachers, clerical unit and education support personnel, and the school committee’s negotiating team have agreed to present their best and final contract offers next week. HEA proposes to accept zero percent for the first year, but seeks a 2.5 percent hike for the 2015-2016 school year and 2.5 percent raise the following year. The last teachers’ contract expired at the end of June, 2014. The administration has proposed zero, 1 and 1.5 percent increases over the three years, HEA previously reported.

Low pay scales are driving teachers away from Haverhill, sources told WHAV. Last year, for example, 13 percent of teachers left the system, while only 2 percent of those retired. Haverhill has reportedly filled many positions with teachers recently laid off in Lawrence, but there are still 30 vacant slots.

Hundreds of teachers wore black this morning to “mourning” for concessions sought by the district.

Hundreds of teachers wore black this morning to “mourning” for concessions sought by the district.


9 thoughts on “Teachers Wear Black to Protest Contract Stall at Back to School Meeting

  1. The first thing young families look at before moving to any city is the school ratings. Haverhill’s is not good right now. What I see is Haverhill losing more middle class professional families, and more fed subsidized families moving into rentals and low income housing. This does not fare well for Haverhills balance. No one wants to talk about this. No one can say if Haverhill has met 401B requirement of 20% because they do not have a count. If this continues there will be more fed and state subsidized housing in Haverhill and it will continue to lose good teachers and families to other towns. A balance of income earners is necessary to a cities success. Also if Haverhill continues to burden businesses with higher taxes they will also continue to leave as they have been. This (business) is a topic for another day.

  2. Our teachers deserve more respect as well as appreciation for all they do for our kids. If our teachers were treated as well as they should be and if they were happy to do their jobs, our kids would benefit as would their futures. There would not be 30 vacancies in teaching positions if our teachers were treated and compensated fairly…fact!

  3. Scully has made quite a mess of the school system this year. Parents are NOT happy with the direction the school system in headed.

    The loss of Mr. Rossi from Nettle and the Haverhill School system is still being felt. He is surely missed. Hey, maybe he’ll come back someday soon to replace Scully…. One can wish right?

  4. Jim Scully….you need to make it known that a personal political agenda has no place in the classroom and that teachers need to leave it at the door before they set foot in a classroom or school building. If they don’t like it then fire them!!! There are plenty of people out there that would love to have their part time job that comes with full time benefits. These teachers display absolutely no professionalism. Parents aren’t paying taxes in this city so these people can make a mockery of the classroom for their own self benefit. Instead of behaving in such a way that suggest they deserve extra compensation they are essentially proving why they don’t!!

    Parents are fed up too when it comes to ‘enough being enough’!!! This display of unprofessionalism proves once again why unions breed mediocrity. Instead of coming forward and proving why they deserve a raise all they are doing is complaining and whining about being held to a higher standard. It’s ‘always’ Quid Pro Quo when it comes to this teacher’s union and kids suffer because of their unmotivated teachers in the classroom and parents suffer having to foot the bill for the whole bunch of them who give half an effort because of their perceived victimization. Enough is enough!!!

    • Jack,

      While I can’t speak for other schools, I can say that the departure of Mr. “C” and Rossi were pretty big here in Bradford Elementary. Rossi got moved then eventually left, but with Mr. “C”, his absence cannot be measured on a balance sheet. He taught the toughest math classes, coached, and volunteered for various activities. This is not to say other teachers are not as good, or do any less, it was just my experience.

      The tragedy of the entire episode now and for the long-term future of this city is that it is poor. The decision made long ago, that Mayor Jim refuses to ever concede, will haunt this city until its mathematical and economic conclusion. Teachers and students both will suffer, as The City of Haverhill lives or dies at the behest of Brian Dempsey’s ability to commit legal larceny of Taxpayers across the state. Haverhill is the laughing stock of bond markets everywhere, just like so many failed municipalities before it. Those continuing bad policy will be long gone when it all goes bad.