School Committee and GTA disagree on teacher raises


EMILY CORRAO, Staff Writer

You may have seen GHS teachers dressed in black, wearing one percent pins, and leaving school together at their contractual time of 2:12 p.m. yesterday.  

According to the Gloucester Teachers Association, these actions are an attempt to garner support from the community, and to bring attention to how many teachers work beyond their contractual hours without additional compensation.

After the last round of open bargaining, the School Committee and the GTA still have not reached an agreement. Open bargaining was held on Monday November 8th, and much of the meeting focused on salaries.

The GTA is disappointed by the School Committee’s offers of a 1.5 percent or 2 percent raise. They also opposed step increases being grouped with the cost of living adjustment raise. 

“Including step raises in the presentation misleads the public because that’s money the School Committee already knew they would have to spend,” said Anthony Parolisi, Gloucester’s field representative from the Massachusetts Teachers Association.  “Those are not new dollars, they’re in the budget.” 

However, School Committee member Kathy Clancy said the step increases are not funded. “So even though we’ve agreed to them, and we know they’re there…we still, every year, need to go to the city to get things funded.”

Parolisi said that the GTA is “concerned that the School Committee continues to use these sort of deceptive practices in order to make people believe their offer is a little bit better than it is.”  

“We’re negotiating over the cost of living adjustment,” Parolisi said.  He said the GTA’s offer of a 3 percent raise “tries to keep pace with rising cost of inflation and health care and all the other expenses that every family has to deal with, and our educators are no different.” 

The GTA said including step and track increases in the presentation is deceptive because more than half of the membership does not get step and track increases. 

“The step increases and the COLA have never been linked together,” GTA Vice President Rachel Rex said. “I haven’t had a step increase in 16 years. I’ve been on step 13 for 16 years. So the only increase I get is the COLA that you offer me.” 

School Committee member Samantha Watson said “We’re gonna continue to present salaries in this way as sort of a big picture approach so that the community does have a better sense of what teacher salaries include.”

The School Committee had recognized the GTA’s frustration and had reiterated their offers.

“We came in tonight with two possible compensation packages, and they represent the considerable movement on our behalf from where we started,” said School Committee member Johnathan Pope. “The counter proposal that we got from the GTA on compensation made an insignificant change. It was not substantial.”

The GTA said that they recognize the movement that the School Committee has made, and plans to have a counter proposal for the next meeting.

“Asking teachers to bear the entire community’s budget woes is an undue burden to put upon them while we have the competing interest of trying to attract and retain the best teachers that we can,” Parolisi said.

The meeting ended with both groups finally agreeing on the date for the next GTA negotiation. The next virtual meetings will be held on Wednesday, November 29th, and Thursday, December 13th. These meetings are open to the public, and links can be found on the school committee’s website.