The Boston School Committee unanimously approved a new three-year contract with the Boston Teachers Union worth about $141.6 million.
The Wednesday night vote was the last step needed to finalize the contract. City and union leaders in July announced the agreement, ending months of negotiations between the city, district and the teachers union. The contract, which union members ratified earlier this month, includes money for new hires to help integrate students with special learning needs into general classroom settings, a 9.5 percent pay raise for educators over the course of the contract, and 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all union members.
Wednesday night’s approval is a big win for the teachers union, which argued that in order for BPS to achieve state imposed-goals of improving education for English learners and students with special needs, the district needed to hire more personnel with specialization in these fields. Other provisions in the contract ease teacher’s workload including placing more rigid caps on class sizes, allowing educators more time to obtain new licenses, and reducing the amount of time a member is required to have been working in the district before they are entitled to paid parental leave. After working in the district for a year, the educators now are eligible for the leave; previously, parental leave was only granted to those in their second and third years of working in the district.
“Our members’ top priority is always our students and creating the best possible learning experience for our students,” BTU President Jessica Tang said in a statement. “That includes working with the district and the school committee to ensure educators have the tools and resources they need, and this agreement takes major steps towards ensuring that.”
In a strong negotiating position amid a national teachers shortage, the union also secured raises of 3 percent in year one, 3.5 percent in year two, and 3 percent in year three of the contract for its more than 8,000 members. The School Committee also approved requesting from the city a one-year appropriation to cover the additional nearly $38 million it will cost to implement the new contract.
This story has been updated to reflect the addition of personnel with specializations means more students will receive more direct attention from staff with relevant licenses.