Patrick Laverty: Rewriting the Teachers’ Contract
First, let me say, as a Cumberland resident and taxpayer, that I greatly respect teachers and the job that they do shaping the minds of our children. I like the profession; I do not hate teachers, nor do I have anything personally against them. This is not intended as an attack.
Having taken the time to review the entire current Cumberland teachers’ contract, and understanding that it expires this coming August, I want to give my suggestions for changes and improvements to the existing contract to the Cumberland School Committee to bring to the negotiating table. What follows is an abridged version. The background and full version are available here.
- Make all negotiations public. The taxpayers are paying the bill, so let the taxpayers see the full negotiations. What’s to hide?
- Eliminate salary, steps, and insurance from the contract. Let the teachers’ union be their employer. Simply give the money to the union and let them decide on salaries, raises, and negotiate the insurance coverage. Treat the union like a subcontractor. If this is not possible for some reason in negotiations:
- Remove the specification of health and dental insurance providers from the contract. Remove the names “Blue Cross” and “Delta Dental” in case something better comes along.
- Increase the teachers’ contributions to their health insurance from 11% to 25% to make it more in line with the private sector.
- Drastically reduce the amount given for health insurance buyouts. The health insurance buyout is currently approximately $5,000. Reduce that to $500.
- Eliminate double raises. Currently, teachers get a raise each year for moving up to the next step and because there is a raise for that new step from the previous year. The average raise in the present contract is 11.7%. Make that closer to the cost of living or inflation.
- Eliminate degrees for raises. Give merit-based raises.
- Monthly payroll, and no paychecks in the summer months. This may be just shaving a few bucks from the overall problem, but even a few dollars will buy a few new books.
- No pay for seminars. Teachers going to professional development seminars on their own time are given $30 for attending. Eliminate this.
- Change the next contract’s expiration date. Change the expiration date to June 30 so there’s no more last-minute, or even beyond that, negotiating and wondering if the schools will open with teachers.
- Eliminate allotted sick days. Let teachers take what they need. When you give people a number of days, they tend to use them. Professionals will simply take what they need.
- Don’t allow substitute teachers to become full-time teachers in the same year. Substitutes are substitutes and full time is full time. Remove the clause whereby a substitute teacher can get retroactive pay for substituting for a certain number of days.
- Eliminate “preparation time.” Lengthen the day by 45 minutes, to 7.5 hours, and have the teachers prep during that time.
- Shorten the length of the contract. No one knows the state of the economy in three years, so don’t guarantee what you’ll be able to pay in three years.
Patrick Laverty is Treasurer of the Cumberland Republican Town Committee