Haverhill Teachers, School Committee Reach Tentative Pact; Raises, Mentors Top Items

Educators, parents and supporters from across the region joined the Haverhill Education Association for a rally at City Hall on June 11, 2019. (Courtesy photograph)

Haverhill teachers and School Committee reached a tentative agreement last night on a new three-year contract.

Anthony J. Parolisi, a social studies teacher at Consentino School, is president of the Haverhill Education Association.

After a nearly five-hour marathon session, members of the Haverhill Education Association and School Committee negotiators came to an agreement calling for salary increases during each year, tuition reimbursement for the first time, improved mentorship and continuing talks on equity between schools.

“Members will see their membership and advocacy made these gains. They should take credit for the contract,” says union President Anthony J. Parolisi. Neither side disclosed the amounts of annual salary raises, but Parolisi said, “there are no leading zeroes.” Full details of the pact won’t be released until a formal memorandum of understanding is crafted. It will cover more than 600 teachers, but Parolisi says the union is still identifying potential new members who were recently hired.

School Committee member Richard J. Rosa.

School Committee member Richard J. Rosa, chairman of the schools’ negotiating team, told WHAV, “Both sides have worked hard for about 18 months to get to this point. The district’s bargaining team listened to teachers’ concerns. That’s why the agreement contains tuition reimbursement and other language important to Haverhill educators.” He said next steps are to reduce the agreement to writing before each side votes to ratify the agreement.

On tuition reimbursement, Parolisi says, “It is the first time out, but an important step in the right direction. It makes an investment in professional development.”

The draft pact also calls for a comprehensive mentorship program which, the union president believes, will help retain teachers. He explains 47 out of 150 teachers who left the district were not renewed by the administration. “If one-third of the teachers are out by (the district’s) choice, we must have failed someone.”

While state law requires new teachers to be coached by seasoned peers, Parolisi says, “We have so many new teachers each year that we don’t always have enough people available and willing to mentor them.” Under the plan, stipends paid to mentors will increase from $300 per teacher guided to $500 per year. Unlike past years, the stipend will be paid both the first and second years. The union president says mentors typically coach up to two new teachers.

Since it is too late for the current school year, negotiators also agreed to continue discussing what is called “equity” between teacher duties at one school versus another. He explains teachers at one middle school, for example, might have more classes or more preparation time than teachers at another school yet they both teach the same grades.

School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti, part of the city’s negotiation team, highlighted one of the non-financial benefits of the pact. “In addition to a pay raise, the tentative agreement addresses many long standing issues and increases teacher input and participation in educational decisions.”

Haverhill Education Association is represented by Massachusetts Teachers Association Field Representative Charmaine Champagne. Besides Rosa and Magliocchetti, the school team includes School Committee Vice Chairman Sven A. Amirian.

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