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BPS, teachers union reach contract deal that includes hiring nurses for every school

Boston public-school teachers will get 2% annual raises for the next three years under a contract deal with BPS under which BPS will also hire enough nurses to ensure at least one at every school, hire more mental-health professionals and reduce class sizes for kindergarteners whose native language is not English.

The contract terms - which make the raises retroactive to last summer when the old contract ran out - mean BPS will hire 22 new school nurses and 23 mental-health professionals - and will reduce "sheltered English immersion" kindergarten class sizes from 25 to 22. BPS will also ensure every pre-K and kindergarten class has a paraprofessional in addition to a teacher. Low-paid paraprofessionals will get a $1 hourly wage increase.

Also:

Additional investments aimed at better supporting high needs students include increasing wages for teachers at lower performing schools to better recruit and retain effective educators, and increasing compensation for language acquisition team facilitators.

In a statement, Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang said:

The agreement reflects a shared commitment by the BTU and by BPS to ensuring the best educational experience possible for every single student, including and especially for our most vulnerable and highest need students. Our shared focus on student health, student homelessness, and stronger inclusion practices shines through in this agreement.

The deal also codifies how BPS should deal with teachers who are no longer permanently assigned to a specific class. According to BPS:

The new contract also strengthens the district’s continuous commitment to a process called mutual consent hiring, which gives school principals/headmasters and their communities greater ability to hire effective educators to meet their schools’ unique needs, which includes removing some traditional constraints such as forced hiring based on seniority. The district first adopted mutual consent hiring in 2014, and the new contract reflects further advancements in this practice.

According to the teachers union:

Some public reports have previously mischaracterized these educators as "unassigned" when in fact they go to work serving the students of BPS every day on temporary assignments while awaiting long-term placements within BPS that leverage their talents for the benefit of students and school communities.

Under the agreement, BPS and BTU will pilot an initiative that guarantees interviews to these experienced educators who apply to a minimum positions for which they are qualified. Many educators have voiced concerns that teachers on temporary assignments may have been denied interviews based on their age. The pilot will also temporarily suspend building-based attachment rights for educators who are hired into long-term positions after they have been in the temporary assignment workforce for one year.

Teachers are tentatively scheduled to vote on the new deal on June 12. The School Committee also has to approve.

Teachers are tentatively set to vote June 12 on the contract. The School Committee also has to approve.

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Comments

Any word on whether they are still going to fit all of this in the $1.139 billion budget? Or does this mean we have to pull money out of another department. Current proposed budget is only going up $24 million next year with a flat headcount. About half of that would be teacher salaries based on this information. Not sure how far the city can get trying to hire 45 professionals on another $12 million or so along with other cost increases. Wondering if this is coming out of another part of the schools budget or from another department.

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I know our school had to make tough and really unpopular hiring/firing decisions based on this years budget. With the requirements listed I dont know what they will do because the money is still finite but now they have to use it in a more specific (albeit good) way.

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Typically the budget is adjusted to meet the needs of the new contract. Can't believe it took this long to put in a nurse in every school, hire more mental health professionals and increase supports for inclusion classrooms. Better late than never I suppose.

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There is a reserve for collective bargaining of about $42 million in the budget - maybe not all schools, but that's how they'll pay for it (there is $15 million in reserve for this year - so that's probably where the retro pay comes from).

Actually they have 124 nurses in the budget and 125 schools - so not sure why they need 20+ more - but probably for absences, larger schools (?) etc.

I find it interesting that at the same time we need to raise $3 million in private funds for the libraries and have a perennially impoverished park system, we find money for the schools every time we sneeze.

One more straw on the camel of the neighborhood divestment back.

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The state will update it's ridiculously out of date funding formula and then the city will have more money for parks and libraries. And of course most, if not all, of the non-profit orgs on Boston land(some with billions of dollars) do not pay their fair share in PILOT to the city. That's literally millions upon millions of dollars.

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If they update the formulas, Boston will probably LOSE money. We are an incredibly wealthy community and even with our high needs we would probably end up sending more to even needier communities that have similar demographics, but lots less money. Think Lynn, Worcester, Springfield, Fall River etc.

As for PILOT, it would be nice. Been at this a long time - don't hold your breath. Not changing any time soon.

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Or did that cost them money?

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...a contract deal with BPS under which BPS will also hire enough nurses to ensure at least one at every school...

Do some schools not have nurses currently? Please tell me this isn't true.

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Currently, 44 schools in BPS have a nurse that splits his or her time with another school. This change will result in the hiring of about 22 additional nurses.

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That is absolutely insane.

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There are 124 nurses in the budget already. And we have about 125 schools. Rather than hiring 22 nurses, we should be closing 22 schools.

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For a large school like BLS with several thousand students? I honestly don't know the answer... anyone?

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Which I believe is 1000 students. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) cites a number of 750 - Boston's ratio is about 450:1 - but looks like we have so many small schools that we need more than that to keep the 1 nurse per school ratio.

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Many schools have two or three nurses depending on size. A lot of schools (44?) have 1 nurse for part of the day and no nurse for the other part of the day. That's dangerous. The new contract ensures that every school has at least one nurse full time.

I hope you're joking about closing 22 schools instead of hiring 22 nurses. I don't see how that would ever make sense. Not Stevil sense, but like actual educational sense.

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As in the part about counting that you must have missed.

We used to have 125 schools for 65000 students. Now we have maybe 123 school for about 50,000 students. It's not sense. It's math.

And I am absolutely serious. 125 schools is a bigger waste of resources than busing. More points to connect for transportation, 25 principals, assistant principals, nurses and other administrators can all go. With a budget of $10 million per school you could probably save over $100 million by closing 20% of them and never miss a beat educationally.

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First, there are 54K students. That aside, your reasoning still doesn't make educational sense. Just because there were 65K students and 125 schools sometime before 2006 doesn't mean that 54K students and 123 schools now is a waste of money. In fact, scores, graduation rates and numbers of level 1 and 2 schools are the highest they have ever been. The data seems to suggest that we are better off with 54K students and 123 schools. Maybe things would have been better if we had 130 schools when we had 65K students? Anyway, I think you get my point- we shouldn't make educational decisions based only on the numbers of students and schools. This two things alone don't tell us much.

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the state says 51k (and declining enrollment). But I don't think they included in-district charters in that count - so there are a few thousand extra. You'd have a hard time convincing me that school count has anything to do with academic results - the biggest boost came when they made MCAS a graduation requirement. As we all know, education results are highly correlated with income and as cities go, we are probably the wealthiest in the country - and getting wealthier, even in our poorer neighborhoods.

I repeat - we could close 25 schools and a year down the road nobody would notice or care and we'd have maybe $100 million more to spend far more productively.

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close 25 schools and nobody would notice or care, ok, yeah right. Tell the mayor and the school committee that.

Also it's not declining. In fact, enrollment fluctuated from 53k - 56k since 2006. Some years up some years down, actually the average is trending up in the last three years.

http://buildbps.org/data/misc/D.01.MGT%20Demographic%20Report_Final.pdf

And for the three years not included in the report above- google says:
2016-2017 56K
2017-2018 56k
2018-2019 54K

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That's not what they reported to the state. 2006-2007 - (including in district charters) the student population was 58,500 kids. Now it's 54,500 with pretty steady decline. It's also partly due to the expanded Pre K (1200 additional students and that population is pretty tapped out). It would also be significantly lower if we had METCO and charter supply to meet demand. Thousands of kids are basically held hostage by a system they and their parents would like to avoid.

As for closing 25 schools - there would be wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments for about 6 months. Then everyone would settle into their new lives and move on.

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That is absolutely insane.

I don't know details of MA law, but from what I've seen elsewhere, while each school needs a nurse - it might be the actual nurse on-site half-time, with an aide on-duty the rest of the time. The nurse would have partial duty at two schools, and an aide at each. I suppose it was cheaper to pay one nurse and two very low-paid aides rather than pay two nurses.

My mother did that for a few years (grade school). "Nurse/clerk" was the job title (for the aide) in that town. She could do basic first aid, whatever emergency stuff she had to be trained in, and could dispense only those meds which were pre-scheduled/listed for a given student.
One story she had was of a problem at one of the other schools in town - for some reason both nurse and aide there were not available, and some child with serious med that had to be taken on-schedule. Principal there solved the problem by calling Mom's principal, who loaned her his car to drive cross-town and dispense med on-time at the other school.
Even in those days (~35 years ago), it was pretty strictly regulated on who could dispense. Probably would have caused an incident if anybody else had done it. I can barely imagine what it must be like these days.

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But if your kid may need medical assistance - say, your kid has diabetes - BPS will refuse to admit them to a school that doesn't have a nurse.

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