In a recent letter to parents, Framingham Superintendent of Schools made inaccurate statements about how teacher compensation occurs in the Framingham Public Schools and its impact on the school budget.
We view our current contract negotiations as an opportunity to work jointly to make improvements to our schools – including reducing class sizes – that will benefit our students.
In our negotiations, we have been discussing many items along with salaries.
The Framingham Teachers Association finds it unfortunate that the Superintendent is focused almost solely with the financial aspects of education and not how to improve our school system.
The FTA offers the following corrections:
• Framingham teachers have faced dramatic increases in healthcare costs. Along with every other municipal association in the town (Police, Fire, DPW, etc.), the teachers voted to increase the contribution rate of the employees by six percent. After this occurred, a new state law passed, allowing municipalities to redesign healthcare plans. As a result, the town was able to reduce its healthcare liability by about $1.8 million dollars. These savings were accomplished by shifting the cost directly to employees in the form of deductibles and increased copays.
• Movement on the teacher salary schedule is NOT automatic. There are educational requirements For example; some steps require a teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree or a Master’s Degree to earn six graduate credits to
receive a step raise. If they do not, then the teacher will not move steps.
• Teachers must pay out of pocket for graduate course credits. A teacher must earn graduate credits to earn increases in salary. In addition to the step requirement above, each “lane change” only occurs when a teacher has earned 15 graduate credits that have been approved by the school district. The individual cost associated with earning 15 graduate credits can be anywhere from $5,000 at a state school to $10,000 or more at a private college or university.
• Many teaching positions have been lost and replaced with supervisory or administrative positions. Central administration now has more administrators than it has in the past few years. Along with the new superintendent, there has been the addition of a new Director of Educational Operation, an interim Director of Curriculum and Instruction and the potential hiring of a new Assistant Superintendent. The combined salaries of these four individuals approach $600,000. Replacing teaching positions with administrators and supervisory support is not the solution to many of the problems.
• Inaccurate description of Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA). In FY 2012, the teachers agreed to 0% COLA and to not change lanes until the 93rd day. In FY 2011, the teachers were slated to receive 3% COLA. However, the teachers agreed to take two furlough days, so the actual salary increase the school department paid was a net 1.88%. In FY 2008, the teachers received 1.25% COLA on the 91 st day. In FY 2009, 2010, the teachers received 3% and 3.25% respectively.
• Use of uncommon examples to depict the typical teacher’s compensation. It is a rare occurrence for a member of the staff to be eligible for a lane change and a step raise within one school year. The Superintendent did not provide hard numbers for his example and so the FTA has formally requested this information for full transparency. The administration has yet to respond. To make this sound commonplace is just plain false.
• The town of Framingham does NOT contribute to teacher retirement. We pay 11% of our salary into the state retirement system, not the town retirement system. The town actually saves a substantial amount of money on this item by not having to contribute.
Framingham Teacher Association
Submitted by FTA President Sam Miskin