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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Lawrence Public Schools: Update on Teacher Contract

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
April 18, 2014.

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At the April 29, 2014 meeting, the Board will hear a brief presentation on the new collective bargaining agreement between the Lawrence Public Schools (through Receiver Jeffrey C. Riley) and the Lawrence Teachers Union (LTU). The contract reinforces reforms that have been put in place over the past two years of receivership, while providing key employment protections, fair compensation, and new opportunities for teachers.

The new agreement is a tribute to the parties' collaborative work over a year of negotiation, including mediation sessions, and to their commitment to improve educational outcomes for every student in Lawrence. The agreement, which the LTU membership ratified on April 2, 2014, recognizes the Receiver's authority under the Achievement Gap Act to make rapid, dramatic changes to accelerate improvement for all students. It also reflects the terms originally outlined in the district's Level 5 Turnaround Plan, which have been modified over the past year through extensive discussions with the LTU leadership. Lawrence teachers had been without a contract since the prior collective bargaining agreement expired in August 2010, more than a year before the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted in November 2011 to designate Lawrence a Level 5 or "chronically underperforming" district and place it into receivership.

The new agreement will allow the Receiver to remain faithful to the components of the district's Level 5 Turnaround Plan. The plan recognizes that great teachers are the most important factor in improving student achievement, and the schools in which they teach need autonomy to make key decisions about their students' needs. Among the major provisions of the new agreement are:

  • A professional compensation system that includes promotional opportunities for teachers

    Under the new agreement, teachers are compensated like other professionals by creating a career ladder with five levels for teachers (Novice, Developing, Career, Advanced, and Master). All current teachers received a pay increase in the new career ladder system implemented on July 1, 2013, and over 92 percent of teachers received more in the career ladder system than they would have received under the prior step-and-lane system. Advancement up the career ladder will be based on a holistic measure of teacher effectiveness. Exemplary educators can increase their pay significantly faster than in the prior system. Key benefits are preserved for all teachers, including sick leave, personal leave, health insurance, life insurance, and pensions.

  • New terms and conditions for school-based autonomy

    Individual schools are provided autonomy, allowing them to make local decisions on school curriculum, professional development activities, school calendar, staff and student schedule, and class sizes. Teacher Leadership Teams are established to work with principals as the school-based decision-making body across all Lawrence schools.

  • Tiered compensation stipends for educators related to extended learning time

    Teachers are eligible to earn over $10,000 in additional annual stipends for teacher leadership roles, expanded learning time, and other roles and responsibilities.

We have invited Lawrence Receiver Jeff Riley, Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera, and Lawrence Teachers Union President Frank McLaughlin to attend the April 29 meeting to update the Board on the contract.



Last Updated: April 23, 2014
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