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This month’s installment of Catching up on Contracts covers the new contracts in three  districts in NCTQ’s Teacher Contract Database:  Minneapolis Public Schools, Granite School District and  Bridgeport Public Schools

Minneapolis Public Schools (MN), (July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2015)

Seven months into the 2013-2014 school year, Minneapolis teachers voted to ratify their 2013-2015 contract.

This contract furthers efforts initiated by its predecessor to strengthen academic performance at Minneapolis' high priority schools (the 5 percent most persistently low-performing Title I schools). While there are changes in this section of the district’s contract, most of these are changes in recommendations rather than hard policy changes. This includes:

  • Professional development:
        • The new contract increases the number of days for teacher professional development and collaboration from three to five in high priority schools, effective 2013-2014.
  • Additional instructional time:
        • Both the previous and current contracts provide the district several options for adding instructional time but neither mandates that the district employ any one of the suggested options or actually add more instructional time. The difference between the previous and current contract in this area is that the current contract adds one more option for adding instructional time (extended learning options and a longer day) and does not limit the number of days the school year may be extended (the previous contract limited this to a maximum of 5 days.)
  • Class size:
        • The contract sets lower class size targets for K-3 teachers in high priority schools, from 21 students required under the previous contract to a target of 18 students.
  • Renewed focus on talent:
        • The new contract calls for a collaborative effort by the MFT and the district to develop hiring and retention programs that will help attract and retain teachers at high priority schools. But the contract does not provide any specifics on how to achieve this goal.

We look forward to hearing how the district and MFT go about making these goals for high priority schools a reality. Turning now to contract changes that affect teachers across the district:

  • Class size:
        • For the first time, the contract calls for district class size targets to be set through the district budgeting process. The targets must be published and made available for the expected class size and teacher–to- student ratio for each grade level and school.
        • As a result, the budget calls for a target of 26 students in grades K-3 and 32 in grades 4-12. (As previously noted, these targets may differ in high priority schools.) When class size exceeds the target, the contract calls for the addition of extra aides or teachers. 
  • Transfers and assignments:
        • The latest contract made a small change to the transfer process, lowering the number of candidates in the interview pool for any given vacancy from five senior teachers and five other applicants, to four from each category.
  • Community and Partnership Schools:
        • Acting on an initiative of soon-to-be former Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson, the district and MFT agreed to the creation of Community Partnership Schools (CPS). Schools interested in achieving CPS status develop and submit a site plan to the CPS Advisory Board. The Board reviews the site plan and makes recommendations to the Superintendent who determines if the school’s proposed plan should be sent to the Board of Education for final approval.
        • Teachers at these schools take a lead role in developing site-based educational models. They might, for example, be instrumental in the development of curriculum, budget, instructional time or design of the school days, just as long as everything is within legal and budgetary requirements. Johnson declared that she would like to eventually see 20-30 percent of the district’s schools functioning under this model.
  • Salary:
        • After four straight years of no cost of living increases, Minneapolis teachers will see an average 4.3 percent annual adjustment across the salary schedule in 2014-2015. The salary schedules for the other years of the contract’s term are not included in the contract.
  • Benefits:
        • The district will increase its health insurance contribution for families and dependents by $600 each year, raising the total contribution from $3,850 in January 2013 to $5,050 by January 2015.

Granite School District (UT), (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2017)

Granite’s new contract brings little change to report. In fact, we can report only one (rather insignificant) change:

  • Salary:
        • The latest contract only included the 2014-2015 salary schedule, and it appears teachers will receive an average 1.5 percent cost of living increase across the salary schedule this school year. 

Bridgeport Public Schools (CT), (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2017)

Bridgeport teachers have a new contract after an extremely contentious negotiation process. Mayor Bill Finch and then-School Board Chairman Kenneth Moales began negotiations by calling the district’s previous contract the worst contract they’d ever seen and demanded major concessions from teachers. Meanwhile, the Bridgeport Educators Association accused city leaders of wanting only to advance Governor Malloy’s reform agenda. After all the fireworks, the new contract is remarkably void of interesting change. 

  • Salary:
        • Over the next three years, teacher salaries will increase by 1.5 percent, 2.3 percent and 1.5 percent in 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, respectively. Step movement is frozen for the 2015-2016 school year but teachers will be able to advance a step on the salary schedule this school year and in 2016-2017.
  • Benefits:
        • Insurance premiums for teachers are increasing over the next three years.
        • Under the old contract, the district contributed 86 percent of the health care premium. By July 2016, that will decrease to 81 percent. One wonders, in light of the increased health premiums and a one percent raise, if younger teachers have any cause to rejoice?

Some education advocates in Bridgeport have expressed disappointment with the district’s new contract, declaring it a missed opportunity to introduce meaningful changes such as performance pay, which the neighboring urban districts of Hartford and New Haven have instituted.