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‘Sidelined’ Boston teachers offered severance or training

More than 100 “sidelined” teachers are being offered the option of collecting a severance plan or special training as the Boston Public Schools tries to better utilize the nearly $10 million being spent on the instructors each year, officials said.

The Boston Teachers Union signed an agreement with the schools on Monday that would offer three severance options to the sidelined teachers. Those instructors are referred to by school department officials as “Suitable Professional Capacity” teachers, or those who lost classroom assignments after leaving due to a school closing, department downsizing, maternity leave, or after being evicted from a “turnaround school,” according to school and union officials.

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The first option provides a lump-sum payment of 40 percent of a teacher’s annual salary if he or she voluntarily separates from the school system effective on Dec. 21, according to the severance agreement, which was obtained by the Globe. The second option is a 20 percent payout for a teacher with a date of Jan. 18, 2016. The third alternative is a 10 percent sum for the instructor with a departure date effective on Feb. 12, 2016.

Another alternative would be to enroll in a Pathways Program that would allow an eligible instructor to obtain an additional license in either Special Education or English as a Second Language, according to an offer letter sent out to sidelined teachers by Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union, on Oct. 15.

Both licenses have hourly requirements regarding completing seminar work, participating in an internship, shadowing a proficient teacher in that program, working with students in that program, and receiving those students’ feedback, the letter said.

The schools and the union also, the letter states, have agreed to split the $900 cost for each eligible teacher that chooses to participate in the Pathways program.

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The Boston Public Schools is currently spending approximately $10 million on the sidelined teachers, according to Richard Weir, spokesman for BPS. There are at least 117 sidelined teachers, officials said.

Weir said it was too early to say how much money the district will pay out in severance packages.

“This agreement is part of a larger district strategy that aims to reduce the number of SPC teachers by offering our permanent employees an increased array of options,” he said.

Stutman said there is no penalty for teachers that do not accept any of the options, and he said, “They stay where they are until a position opens up where there is a suitable match. ... The main thing we’re interested in is finding a new teaching home in a new subject area for them.”

The union president also added that the severance plan was to give those teachers on the cusp of retirement or resignation an incentive.

The mayor’s office has been informed of the agreement and other developments concerning the issue, but was not directly involved in “brokering this arrangement,” Weir said. The office of Mayor Marty J. Walsh could not be reached for comment Monday night.


Lauren Fox can be reached at lauren.fox@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurenbfox.