After eighteen months of negotiations, Springfield public school teachers signed a contract this week that will hold for the next four years.
The new contract raises teachers’ salaries each year of the four-year deal. That’s a step Springfield Education Association head Timothy Collins says is essential to keeping teachers in the district.
“We became sort of a training ground for teachers in Hampden County. People would come, get a job with us, take advantage of our professional development, start to really hit their stride with teachers, and then look around and move out of the district.”
Under the new contract, teachers will see salaries that are more competitive with surrounding districts. Springfield Superintendent Dan Warwick says when the city was run by a state Financial Control Board between 2004 and 2009, teacher salaries lagged behind other districts by approximately $8,000 to $9,000 a year. He says salaries will now be on par with other western Massachusetts districts. Also in the contract is a reduction in teachers’ sick days. Warwick says that’s part of an effort to curb abuse of the sick time system by some teachers.
“We put provisions in the contract, and in the new evaluation system to focus on attendance, so teachers are going to be held accountable for their attendance.”
Warwick says those provisions include a requirement for teachers to provide a doctors’ note to principals after three consecutive sick days. He adds the length of this contract will provide stability for Springfield schools. The district has seen tumultuous contract negotiations in the past.