The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 4, 2009

Carlisle teachers’ contract ratified

Five months after the current contract expired, the Carlisle Teachers’ Association (CTA) and the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) have agreed on a new three-year contract, retroactive to July 1, 2009. The contract was ratified by the CSC in executive session on November 18. CSC Chair Chad Koski said he plans to make the vote results available to the public at the December 2 CSC meeting.

Base salary

The contract includes a one-time salary adjustment for a new base salary in 2009-2010, giving less experienced teachers a larger increase. Entry level salaries were raised 9.2% from 2008-2009, while base salaries for the longest-serving, highest-paid teachers were actually reduced by 0.76%. Table 1 shows that base salaries range from $45,396 to $96,671.

During the second and third years the contract provides a 2% increase in base salaries, termed a cost-of-living increase. Under the previous contract, the cost-of-living increase for all teachers was about 3.9%.

Additional salary increases

The teachers’ salary structure has three components: the cost-of-living raise, and increases for steps and lanes.

A step represents each year of satisfactory performance. There are 12 to 15 steps in the salary structure. After 11 to 15 years teachers no longer receive step increases.

The salary scale also contains four lanes, which are based on education degrees and further course work: Bachelors, Masters, Masters plus 30 credits (M+30) and Masters plus 60 credits (M+60). Credits are earned for graduate level college courses beyond the Masters degree and a typical course is worth three credits.

Teachers moving to a higher lane receive a lane increase, in addition to the cost-of-living increase and a step increase (if they qualify).

Step and Lane increases

Under the new contract, step increases are 4%, down 1% from the previous contract.

Therefore, during the second and third years of the contract, total salary increases for teachers (without changes in education level) will be 2% to 6%, down from a previous range of 3.9% to 8.9%.

In the current contract a teacher moving from the Bachelors lane to the Masters lane will receive a 10.5% increase; from masters to M+30, 8.0%; from M+30 to M+60, 3.0%.


For example, in 2009-2010, a teacher with two years experience and a Masters degree receives a 12.4% increase (base adjustment of 8% and a step increase of 4%).

A teacher with 13 years experience in the M+60 lane receives a 3.2% increase (base adjustment of -0.76% and 4% step increase).

The top possible salary grows from $92,321 at the Masters-plus-60 level in the previous contract to $96,671 in the first year of the new contract, and to $100,576 in the third year of the new contract. The top salary, with over 15 years experience at Masters-plus-60, continues to increase each year by the “cost of living”, or 2%. According to Miller, almost half of the teachers are at the top salary range.

The average salary in FY08 was $72,000 (see Table 2.) In the 2007/2008 school year Carlisle’s teacher salaries placed sixth in comparison to similar towns.

A”sustainable” contract

CSC member Louis Salemy said, “Our goal was to have the cost structure sustainable for the long term.” He said the previous contract, which had a 5% step raise and a 3.9% “cost of living” increase was “not sustainable for the town.”

CSC Chair Chad Koski said, “We’re pleased with the contract we came to. Both sides worked very hard on it. I don’t think everyone got what they wanted but we recognized the tight economy the town is in. The teachers really came to bat and helped us out.” Asked to comment about the process, CTA President Michael Miller said, “We are pleased to reach an amicable settlement which helps the school committee control costs long-term. We feel teachers are still compensated well. I also want to thank Marie Doyle for her help in bridging the gap between the two sides.”

“We want to offer competitive salaries, and also want to have a structure that attracts and retains the best teachers,” said Salemy. “It is not a coincidence,” he added, that the students receive high scores on the MCAS tests. “A great education does not come cheap.” If the contract had contained higher salaries, he said, the only way to pay for the increases would be to let teachers go. “We give them [the CTA] a lot of credit. They shared the same view. They looked out for the entire membership [including] junior teachers and senior teachers.”

Stipends expanded

Stipends are paid for activities that require more time than is expected for a normal school day. Stipends are separated into five categories and range from $688 in category 1 to $3,082 in category 5. In the first year of the new contract stipend payment levels are the same, and then rise 2% for each of the next two years.

Eleven new stipend positions were added, including technology mentor, literary journal, and athletic director. A new stipend was added for lunch duty. “Lunch was a subject of discussions,” Salemy said. “We thought it made sense. Right now a lot of parents volunteer, but it’s a battle to get them to show up. A lot of parents find it difficult to reprimand someone misbehaving. The teachers are in a better position to do that.” He said having teachers take on the responsibility would free up the principals, who traditionally have covered the lunch hours. Another new stipend is for Web Master. “The demands on Cyd McCann have gone up so her hours have increased as well. It is a fair stipend given the demand.”

Professional development

Teachers are paid for activities such as summer employment, professional development, which includes local courses to earn credits for movement to higher lanes, and faculty grants for the development of new teaching initiatives (called The Odden Pool). For each of the three years of the contract, funding for professional development will be $30,000, while the Odden Pool will receive $35,732.

In the previous contract funding for those activities increased each year.

Non-salary modifications

In the new contract the superintendent is allowed to call up to three after school staff meetings during each school year. “We have to have it in the contract,” Salemy said. “It’s important that the superintendent have the right to call a staff meeting.”

Teachers can be evaluated by an administrator or, if they have reached professional status (usually three years at the school), they may choose to be evaluated through a peer review process. The previous contract focused on evaluations performed by administrators. The new contract has much of the language regarding administrator reviews removed and instead stresses the peer review process. Teachers are required to have an evaluation every year, instead of every other year as in the previous contract.

The new contract carefully lays out what a work day consists of, including preparation time, lunch period, and teaching time. New to this contract is a clause that requests teachers do not work both an early morning middle school class (1st period) and a late afternoon elementary school class (9th period).

Contract called a win-win

“I am happy with the agreement,” concluded Salemy. “We each had our points. We reached an agreement we are both happy with. I praise the CTA: they bargained in good faith. They understood that if the contract was too rich we would have to let teachers go. We were on the same page with that. It was a win for the town and a win for the teachers. We have great people in our school and we don’t want to lose them.”

The contract represents general educators, special educators, special service providers such as occupational therapists, specialists such as music and art teachers, and curriculum specialists such as literary specialists. The contract does not represent positions such as superintendent, principals, assistant principals, director of student services, school business manager, substitutes, aides, or other positions such as custodial services.

The CSC was assisted by the law firm Ropes and Gray, while the CTA had a Massachusetts Teachers Association representation working with them. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito