Mayor, School Committee Members Worry About Paying Contract Raises

Haverhill School Committee President Scott W. Wood Jr.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

While a new four-year contract agreement for Haverhill public school teachers became official last night, some concerns were raised about finding the money to pay for raises during the fourth year of the contract.

By a unanimous 6 to 0 vote, the Haverhill School Committee Thursday night approved a memorandum of agreement with the Haverhill Education Association (HEA). It calls for a total 5.75 percent salary increases over the contract period, retroactive to July 1, 2014 and ending June 30, 2018. Mayor James J. Fiorentini, committee chairman, recused himself from the discussion and vote as his son is a teacher in the school district. Returning to the meeting after the vote, Fiorenitni remarked the overall average of the pay raise schedule, at under 1.5 percent, is “certainly reasonable” and consistent with cost of living and a regional wage increase. However, he cautioned he has “grave concerns over the last year of the contract.”

“The last year of the contract is 2.75 percent. When you factor in, as we must, the school step increases of 1.15 percent, that leaves us with around 3.85 percent that we’re going to have to pay for increased salaries in the last year of the contract,” Fiorentini said. “Frankly, that is not sustainable. That is a very, very difficult task. It’s going to be put upon us over the last year of the contract and it’s going to require us to make some very tough and difficult decisions, either to cut some other services from outside the school department or cut services inside the school department.”

President Scott W. Wood Jr. raised similar concerns earlier. He said they were not able to fund retroactive raises to last year and it means they “have to backload a contract.”

“In essence, you had one year of the contract, in (fiscal year 2015) which was last year that basically we didn’t have any money to give for that year. In this year the committee had put aside a certain amount of money and we didn’t have any more. If we went over that money to try to have less on the end it would have required us to lay off classroom teachers… it wasn’t possible. We were all aware that the (2017) and (2018) were a higher number, but when you dig yourself a hole that’s what happens,” Wood said.

Teachers receive no salary increase for last year, one percent this year, two percent next school year and, in fiscal year 2018, a total of 2.75 percent raise over two steps. Among contract revisions, it reduces the number sick days for current employees by one day and places a prorated scale of earned personal and sick days for new employees. Some language changes, according to Wood, were made regarding “criminal charges, school security and proper attire.”

School Committee Vice President Maura Ryan Ciardiello.

School Committee Vice President Maura Ryan Ciardiello.

While a representative for the HEA did not speak at the meeting, committee Vice President Maura Ryan Ciardiello, a negotiation team member, called contract talks a “very tedious process.” A former teacher herself, she said she has a “deep vested interest in the Haverhill public schools.” She thanked all those involved and said teachers work “extremely hard and they deserve the best.”

“And I don’t think they get enough credit, of what they do day to day. Often times you hear people say they’re having their summers off and they have a lot of time and certain people don’t agree with the pay. They’re either for or against it. I wish we could give them a whole bunch more, to be honest with you. Unfortunately, with the budget in other areas, we had to be careful with spending money that we don’t have. I’m confident we’ll be able to fulfill this contract,” Ryan Ciardiello said.

4 thoughts on “Mayor, School Committee Members Worry About Paying Contract Raises

  1. My thoughts exactly. How can you agree and vote in favor of the contract (no matter how well deserved a teacher pay increase might be) if you don’t know where the money to pay for it will come from? Nailing down those “loose ends” is what youre supposed to be doing as a responsible member of the school committee.

    Do your job.

  2. “some concerns were raised about finding the money to pay for raises during the fourth year of the contract.” –

    Why? We’ve been zero-bound for over seven years, The City will just borrow more while money while its cheap, and rely on whatever monies Dempsey can steal from the Taxpayer Trough. Unfunded liabilities will continue to rise and everyone will keep their fingers crossed the economy and markets don’t collapse. Wage and incomes continue to decline for most Americans, and government, especially Haverhill and Massachusetts, will continue in their endeavor to take the fruit of People’s labor with reckless abandon. What could possibly go wrong?

    • If”concerns were raised” , then why vote in favor of the contract if you can’t find the money to pay it ? Oh yes, it’s an election year and they want their votes. Political whores all of them !

  3. Why the concern for where the money will come from mayor Taxman?
    Seeing that you NEVER pass on the opportunity to raise taxes by 2.5% EVERY year by the end of the three year period you will have raised taxes over 7.5%!

    It would have been nice to know what the actual dollar figure is that these raises represent. At current budget levels every time mayor Taxman raises taxes by 2.5% the city is collecting just over $4MILLION in NEW revenues EVERY year. The city is now collecting $100,000.00 EVERY year just from the 2.5% increase on the $4Million from the previous year. And just think, that next year the city collects $2,500.00 just on the interest on the interest charge!!! By the end of this contract mayor taxman will have raised taxes to the point of the city collecting over $12,307,500.00 NEW taxes!!! At the end of the the third year the city will be collecting over $300,000.00 EVERY year in NEW taxes just on this $12.3Million increase from the previous 3 years increases as mayor Taxman continues to raise taxes by 2.5%. How many teachers does $12.3Million pay for? Compound math is kind of frightening when you see it playing out by incompetent tax and spend politicians.

    Can someone remind mayor Taxman that just a year ago he raised taxes on the citizens of Haverhill by 2.5% and then ended the year with a $3.5MILLION surplus. What did you do with that money Taxman?????

    For the average homeowner in Haverhill with a yearly tax bill of $3,500.00 your taxes will be going up about $100.00 EVERY year into infinity as long as this self proclaimed proud tax and spend Democrat is in office. Taxpayers are paying over $1,000.00 per EVERY year now in extra taxes just from the tax increases incurred since this incompetent mayor has been in office.

    This week mayor Taxman boasted about a deal he cut with an electricity provider claiming citizens would be saving 30% on their electricity bill when they’ll actually be saving 4%. That 4% represents a saving of less than $40.00 a year from most homeowners. What a fraud!

    Enough is enough with this lying, deceiving hack. We’re stuck with him because he’s running unopposed, but on election day don’t vote for him!! Don’t check the box next to his name just because he’s the only on the ballot!!!
    Send a message of nonsupport……..