Haverhill Education Association (HEA) members during a school committee meeting earlier this year.
Within four years, Haverhill educators will be earning 5.75 percent more after the Haverhill School Committee and members of the Haverhill Education Association (HEA) reached “tentative agreement” Monday afternoon.
The agreement, still subject to ratification by union members and the school committee, is split between two contracts. The first covers last year and contains no pay increases or changes over the prior contract. During the next phase, teachers receive a 1 percent increase retroactive to last July 1, 2 percent increase beginning July, 2016, and 1.5 percent July, 2017, followed by another 1.25 percent during January, 2018. The unusual arrangement was dictated by state law, which limits municipal contracts to three years, according to HEA First Vice President Ted Kempinski, negotiation committee chairman.
“All four years—zero that we received last year, and the subsequent three years—this year and proceeding—the teachers will see a 5.75 percent increase,” Kempinski said.
School Committee President Scott W. Wood Jr. said the agreement “allows us to retain our best and brightest teachers while at the same time being fair to taxpayers.”
“When I took over as school committee president in January, I said one of my biggest priorities was to settle the teachers contract. We have done that. I also said the contract needed to be fair to both the teachers and the taxpayer. I believe this contract accomplishes that,” he added. Wood would not confirm the salary increases until the full committee receives the contract.
Kempinski said the two-part increase during the final year is not as unusual as it seems.
“This is an agreement that often school districts and teachers make to save money for the school districts. They don’t give the increase all at once, they stagger it over the year,” he said.
Earlier sticking points about an increase in the school day and changes to teacher preparatory time were largely dropped from the tentative agreement. Kempinski said all agreed the current system is working.
“There was no need to change the start of the school day and increase the length of the school day in the morning for elementary school teachers and at the high school as well,” he said. Wood agreed, but added union members did make important concessions.
Wood: Union Concessions Deliver Cost Savings
“The language in the contract hasn’t changed much except for some concessions that will be a cost savings to the district,” Wood said. He explained there would be fewer paid sick days. “New hires would receive a prorated number of sick days and personal days on the basis of when they were hired.”
Kempinski said HEA members probably wouldn’t vote on the memorandum of agreement for two or three weeks. He explained time needs to be set aside for teachers to ask questions.
HEA represents teachers, clerical unit and education support personnel.