School Committee and GTA agree on contract proposal

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School Committee and GTA agree on contract proposal

MILA BARRY, Staff Writer, Editor

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Last Thursday, January 9th, the Gloucester Teacher Association (GTA) and the Gloucester School Committee reached an agreement on the terms of a new contract. Teachers have been working without an updated contract since the end of August.

“We have agreed to a two year contract at the request of the school committee,” said GTA Vice President Rachel Rex. “This is in light of Superintendent Safier announcing his retirement. It will retroactively cover the 2019/2020 school year and the 2020/2021 school year.”

The proposal features a new financial agreement, as well as some slight changes to language and semantics. 

“The package will include several tentative agreements (TA). The majority of these served to clean up the language of the contract,” said Rex. “We agreed to the school committee’s financial proposal, which includes a 2 percent raise for teachers this year, and a 2.25 percent raise for the next school year. The financial proposition will also make adjustments to teaching salary tracks and steps.”

The alterations made to the salary system will affect mainly new teachers, who fall lower on the set of steps. New hires will have a higher starting salary than granted in the previous contract The step system has been reduced from thirteen steps (traversed over the course of thirteen years) to ten. 

No changes were made to the track system. Earning a Bachelors or Masters degree (and associated credits) puts teachers on the same track they were on previously. 

Changes to language were less extreme. 

“We agreed to new language regarding the Janice Agreement and the Agency fee. We also agreed to new language about temporary leaves of absence, ensuring that it is clear and up to date,” said Rex. 

Part of the reason it took so long for the two parties to settle on a contract with mostly minor changes is that points of contention were temporarily withdrawn from the bargaining table. However, the GTA has not given up. 

“We are passionate about these proposals, and I feel confident we will return to them next year,” explained Rex. “We are back at the bargaining table in January of 2021.” 

As of now, she is very pleased with what everyone has accomplished. 

“Both parties stayed beyond the allotted two hour time slot and worked to come to an agreement. I am proud of the work we did and grateful for the team effort. I’m eager to roll out the contract package to our membership as soon as we are able. I’m hopeful they will receive it well and accept.”

All that remains before the contract is official is a vote by both the GTA membership and the school committee. The city must also grant its approval. The terms of the contract will be laid out at informational presentations to both aforementioned organizations. The dates of these events will be announced to those involved soon.