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Teacher Contracts: Inching into a New Era. Gail M. Zeman Consulting School Business Administrator a nd Past President, Massachusetts ASBO. What has Changed?. Social and financial conditions have changed Private industry has led the move from employer-for-life to profit and owner focus

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gail m zeman consulting school business administrator a nd past president massachusetts asbo

Teacher Contracts:

Inching into a New Era

Gail M. Zeman

Consulting School Business Administrator

and Past President, Massachusetts ASBO

what has changed
What has Changed?
  • Social and financial conditions have changed
  • Private industry has led the move from employer-for-lifeto profit and owner focus
  • Taxpayers are stressed: income has been static at best and tax burden have grown
  • Young employees expect job changes
  • Teacher training is under attack
  • Employers and higher ed.will not accept non-performance in the K-12 sector
how does this affect negotiations
How does this affect negotiations?
  • Defined benefit retirement no longer the norm in private sector
  • Nominal teacher evaluations not enough in a performance-driven society
  • Public sector health insurance is ‘richer’ than mostprivate sector plans
  • Traditional salary grid plus longevity ‘bonuses’ don’t reward expertise
  • Restrictive ‘worker’ language may obstruct delivery of student support
teachers salaries vs cpas
Teachers’ Salaries vs. CPAs’
  • Compared by Location in US
  • In the US, the median beginning salary for a CPA is $45,807; the median salary for a 20+ year veteran CPA is $79,672.
what s the point
What’s the Point?
  • In MA Teachers’ average salaries are higher than median household income (’09, US Census)
  • Under typical contracts, teachers do better in benefits, especially time off and retirement, than many other professionals
  • Most teachers who want to remain in the profession, do, because of seniority
  • A majority of teachers who leave, do so for personal reasons
the three legged stool

Professional Teacher Status

triggers Just Cause and employment protections.

The Salary Schedule, based on educational attainment and seniority, determines layoff order and compensation

Benefits, a growing cost factor,

include insurances, retirement income, work schedules, and services


The Four-legged Chair

Teacher protections include due process and professional collaboration.

Benefits, including insurances and retirement preparation, support the well-being of the career teacher.

Pertinent professional development, includingformal evaluations, helps determine salary growth and enhances proficiency.

Seniority helps determine salary

growth and supports educational program development and newer teachers’ progress.

  • No political support for closing $25 billion structural deficit; public ed. cuts almost certain
  • Proposal for increased employee funding of retirement health insurance
  • Proposal for gradual increase in employee pension funding to 90%
  • No traction for reform of teacher tenure or merit pay
  • Teachers’ union very powerful; local education authority financial status relaxed by State
  • Over $1b in ‘austerity cuts’ since 2003
  • Health insurance provided through state, increases in premiums, co-pays, deductibles
  • Retirement benefits after 30 years and/or age 60; new limits on COLA’s for retirees
  • Tenure after 4 years; Merit pay coming in 26 RTTT districts w/ 50% of assessment based on student achievement
  • No collective bargaining; ‘unions’ allowed to strike or negotiate salary and benefits.
  • Public employee collective bargaining rights curtailed by recent gubernatorial action
  • Base pay increases limited to CPI
  • Teacher union held 75% of health insurance plans; now private insurers can compete
  • Pensions were fully paid by districts, plus contributions to added retiree benefit; now employees will pay half of contribution
  • No contracts = no seniority; looking at other states’ models moving forward
new jersey
New Jersey
  • Gov. Christie: “NJ can no longer afford unions”
  • Health, vision and dental was provided at no employee cost; changing to 1.5% of salary or 3%-35% of actual benefit, whichever is higher
  • Age of retirement and contribution by employees to retirement fund increasing
  • Tenure received after 3 years; variations proposed by Gov. are in discussion
  • Changes are major but unions are still strong

The State of Education in Massachusetts

  • Student achievement is among the top in the country (NAEP*)
  • Per Pupil spending ranked tenth in the nation at $13,080* (FY09 – US average was $10,499)
  • Education was 23rd as a % of the state’s economy*
  • Local property taxes pay for more than half of public education spending

*Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center


Massachusetts – Race to the Top

  • Effective Educator Evaluations
    • RTTT Mandates
    • Commissioner’s Position
    • MTA Leadership Position
    • New requirements coming in new year
  • Requested waiver from NCLB rules
  • Foundation budget remains out of balance with actual spending
  • Local districts continue to be under heavy stress to meet standards, given existing funding structure and contracts
health insurance
Health Insurance
  • Most districts at or moving toward a 75%/25% cost share with employees
  • Many districts offer different plans at different cost shares
  • GIC has worked well for some communities but not all
  • Co-pays are increasing
  • Action underwayto make insurance cost more realistic in Foundation Budget
retiree benefits pension reform
Retiree Benefits/Pension Reform
  • Defined benefit plan remains in force
  • Some districts supplementing with creative 403b options, especially for new employees
  • Unfunded liability, by Mass. Statute, will be amortized over the next thirteen years by increasing state funding, increasing employee contributions or both. Income sources are:
    • Employee Contributions
    • Investment Growth
    • State Appropriations
teacher tenure merit and performance pay
Teacher Tenure, Merit and Performance Pay
  • Little movement from seniority, as primary regulator of layoffs and transfers
  • Handful of districts have a form of merit pay; meaningful implementation is difficult
  • Districts beginning to incorporate evaluations (satisfactory or better) for step/lane increases
  • Lengthy improvement protocols required before dismissal

Collective Bargaining

  • 314 CBA’s maintained in the MA State database*

(Collective Bargaining Agreements, municipal and regional)

  • 56% are current but only 32% go beyond FY12

Many are single year or minimal change deals

  • Urban districts particularly slow to reach agreement

*Educator Contracts Database,

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

massachusetts contract comparisons abc studies
Massachusetts Contract Comparisons (ABC Studies)
  • Use publicly available information to compare
    • Community demographics and wealth
    • Teacher Salaries
    • Working conditions
    • Benefits with direct costs to communities (e.g. insurance, sick leave buy-back, etc.)
    • Benefits with indirect costs (e.g. leave time, extra duties, etc.)
  • Aggregate contract language promoting instructional excellence and unusual or creative contract terms

What we’ve learned….

  • Change will not come easily
  • New terms are beginning to surface
  • Key incentives for excellence are often

outside of contracts

  • Collecting and communicating

information is critical


ABC Variations

The Salary Grid

  • Step increases limited by lateral movement
  • Movement on schedule based on ‘satisfactory’ or better evaluation, prof. dev.
  • Multiple years between step increases
  • Base column plus Graduate Course, Extra Responsibility Stipend(s) (Bellingham)

ABC Variations

Layoff Language

  • Three (or more) year seniority window
  • Certification area, specific experience, evaluations, graduate courses, then seniority
  • “Best interest of the district”, followed by seniority

ABC Variations

Incentives for Teaching Excellence

  • Professionaltone of contract (Falmouth, Concord-Carlisle)
  • Designated levels of achievement with ‘merit’ compensation (Holliston, Concord-Carlisle)
  • Financial incentives to grow, attain additional certificates (Falmouth)
  • Opportunities to increase annual salary
  • Mentorship support

ABC Variations

Exemplary Language


A full-time professional employee’s workweek shall not exceed 37-1/2 hours, exclusive of outside preparation and study and involvement in school and community life, which is part of the life of the professional educator.

Falmouth Pubic Schools, Massachusetts

exemplary language
Exemplary Language

ABC Variations

There will be four (4) Teaching Classifications as follows: Teacher without Professional Status, Teacher with Professional Status, Associate Master Teacher, and Master Teacher. The last two are merit classifications for which all members of the professional staff, except department heads, who have attained professional teacher status are eligible to apply.

Masconomet Regional School District