Friday, April 23, 2004
CCHS teachers take contract negotiations public: offer to swap sabbaticals for smaller class sizes
A large group of teachers appeared before the Regional School Committee (RSC) on Tuesday night, April 13, offering to save the taxpayers money while maintaining smaller classes at the high school. According to a Concord-Carlisle Teachers Association (CCTA) press release, president Andrei Joseph proposed suspending sabbaticals for the upcoming school year, "This would save the towns $133,332 and with that money, a 90:1 student teacher ratio could be maintained."
Apparently, limitations on class size have become an issue in the contract negotiations between the Teacjhers Association and the Regional School Committee. Responding to the appearance at a public meeting, RSC Chair Michael Fitzgerald said, "We firmly believe that the substance of our negotiations should be discussed at the bargaining table, and not in the press." The CCHS teachers' contract officially expired last July but remains in effect until a new contract is signed.
The contract with the Concord-Carlisle Teachers Associations mandates that the school district fund the equivalent of two full-time sabbaticals annually. Faculty members who have worked in the system for seven years or more are entitled to apply for a paid sabbatical for a half-year; those who have worked for ten years may apply for a full year. Usually, the district would be required to award the equivalent of two full-year paid sabbaticals.
Fitzgerald continued, "The awarding of these sabbaticals is at the sole discretion of the CCTA. To the best of our knowledge CCHS is the only school system in Massachusetts in which the awarding of a sabbatical is mandated by contract. We would be happy if sabbaticals were not taken this year, but our goal in negotiations, where we have raised this issue for the last eighteen months, is that sabbaticals be made discretionary on an on-going basis, and not just in the short term.
"We believe that the issue of whether to offer sabbaticals should involve an annual assessment of the availability of funds, the competing demands for those funds elsewhere in the school system, and the merits of the sabbatical proposals that are received. This is how it works within the Concord Public Schools, and we believe that this is how it should work at CCHS. While sabbaticals are a laudable goal in years in which we can afford them, and in which proposals have been made that have the potential for real gain to both the teacher and the system, we do not believe that it makes any sense for sabbaticals to be automatically funded every year if that means that we may have to cut other initiatives, or teaching positions, which have a higher educational value.
"We will certainly review the CCTA proposal, but we remain committed to the long-term reform of this issue."
© 2004 The