School Committee » Collective Bargining Updates

Collective Bargining Updates

Latest Update

June 27, 2024

Dear Members of the Beverly Public Schools Community,

We concluded our final negotiations session of the 2023-2024 school year with the Beverly Teachers Association (BTA) and wanted to share a brief update with the community. 

During our session yesterday, the School Committee requested for the third time to continue negotiations throughout the summer, so we can be better positioned to begin the school year with a new contract and no distractions to student learning. To date, the BTA has not indicated a willingness to meet this summer, so, as it stands, negotiations will resume on August 27 as we begin the new school year.

 

The School Committee has offered significant compensation and paid parental leave proposals, which will bring Beverly educators in line with their colleagues in comparable districts, as well as provide other valuable benefits, with the aim of helping our schools attract and retain qualified educators. During the course of nine negotiating sessions, we have responded to every proposal put forth by the BTA with substantive and meaningful counter proposals and answers. 

 

While the nature of complex negotiations means that our responses to the BTA proposals are more nuanced than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ the BTA negotiators have not deviated from their positions or provided meaningful counter proposals, or even responses to allow negotiations to move forward. While we are aware that it may be a common tactic for some negotiators to distract, deflect, and delay to increase the sense of urgency later in the process, the District’s negotiations subcommittee has invariably maintained urgency in each of the sessions and has come to the table ready to collaborate and help create solutions.

 

Since Danvers is the nearest district to recently ratify a contract, we have heard from educators and members of the community who are curious about how our proposals compare. It is a common tool to seek out comparison districts like Danvers as part of negotiations. The salary schedule we have proposed closes the gap on educator wages with neighboring communities and closely aligns with what was recently approved in Danvers.

 

As we work to align our wage proposal with that of neighboring districts, our proposal included increases to longevity, 403B match contributions, and an increase to the educator curriculum rate. We have also highlighted that BPS pays for 80% of each of our educator's health insurance costs, compared to 70% in Danvers, an average value of more than $2,550 each year for a family plan.

 

After listening closely to educators’ concerns, we also proposed a collaborative advisory committee to discuss how best to use a proposed 35 minute increase in the educators’ work day. This increase in time will help the District address some of the concerns raised throughout the negotiations by educators regarding a lack of time for collaboration and their other professional responsibilities, as well as provide relief for meeting the required time on learning at the high school. Adding time will also help to align us with our neighboring districts.

 

This proposal is a good example of how nuanced negotiations work. We have seen incorrect commentary portraying the negotiations subcommittee as ‘rejecting’ union proposals. As we have explained in our discussions with negotiators, we cannot accept proposals that create potential conflicts to student/caregiver rights and the District’s legal responsibilities to non-discrimination and equity. Additionally, for items that our City cannot afford, we have strived to create counter proposals that are responsive, fair, and equitable to the degree we are able. We eagerly await written responses to all of our proposals and counter proposals from the BTA.

 

The School Committee remains committed to working in good faith to reach an agreement that is fair and equitable, while staying within the fiscal limits established by the City budget. We hope the BTA bargaining team will consider changing their position and pursuing these negotiations over the summer, in order to avoid any disruptions to teaching and learning in the fall.

 

I will continue to provide timely updates to the community as new information becomes available. On behalf of the School Committee, I wish each of you a safe and healthy summer.

 

Sincerely,

Rachael O. Abell

President Beverly School Committee 

 

Previous Updates

Dear Members of the Beverly Public Schools Community,

As promised in yesterday's community message, we want to provide you with an update on the status of negotiations following last night’s bargaining session with the Beverly Teachers Association (BTA). 


Yesterday afternoon, we presented the BTA negotiations team with a generous parental leave proposal that would provide a significant increase in benefits to birth, non-birth, and adoptive parents. We expect to continue collaborative conversations on the items left open in our next extended session on June 26. Additionally, in an effort to continue moving conversations forward, the School Committee tentatively agreed to a few of the proposed changes brought forth by the BTA, but were unable to tentatively agree to all proposals. 


At our June 3 bargaining session, we presented the BTA with a compensation proposal that would bring significant positive changes to the current compensation chart and ensure Beverly is in line with surrounding districts. Yesterday, the BTA presented some of its benchmarks related to compensation and shared that their proposals would require more funding than the current budget allows. While we were pleased that the BTA responded to our proposal, the School Committee can only negotiate within existing budget parameters and reminded BTA negotiators that Beverly offers a package of benefits that collectively must remain affordable


Yesterday was our seventh bargaining session since February. With two bargaining sessions remaining before the end of the current contract, the School Committee remains committed to reaching an agreement that is fair and equitable to all, while staying within the fiscal limits established by the city budget. We remain optimistic that BTA negotiators will reconsider adding summer dates if, as we expect, more time is needed to reach agreement.


I will continue to provide timely updates to the community as negotiations continue. 


Sincerely,

Rachael O. Abell

President Beverly School Committee 

June 17, 2024

Dear Members of the Beverly Public Schools Community,

We wanted to provide a brief but important update as we head into our negotiating session with the Beverly Teachers Association (BTA) this evening. 

First, a significant ‘thank you’ to our partners on the City Council for considering the school budget request this week. We anticipate their affirming vote on Tuesday evening, and recognize this is a tough budget season for many school districts (and municipalities) across the state. As a reminder, this proposed budget remains level service/funded for student programs and operations, but includes historic funding set aside to increase compensation for all members of the BTA.

We remain committed to reaching an agreement that is fair and equitable to all, while staying within the fiscal limits established by the city budget. With three scheduled bargaining sessions remaining before the next school year, we are hopeful that an agreement can be reached swiftly to prevent any disruption to student learning this fall. As mentioned previously, the BTA declined the 24 meeting options we offered to continue bargaining through the summer to help conclude these negotiations. Tonight, we will again respectfully request that the BTA negotiators reconsider negotiating over the summer months if, as we expect, more time is needed to reach agreement.

During our last negotiations session on June 3, the School Committee presented the BTA Unit A members with a new Schedule A salary grid that would provide up to a 12% base salary increase for our educators in FY25. As agreed upon by both parties prior to tonight’s session, we will discuss parental leave, family sick days, compensation, tuition reimbursement and continuing education opportunities for educators, and a few other outstanding items from past meetings.

Please expect another update on the status of negotiations at the conclusion of tonight’s meeting.

 

Sincerely,

Rachael O. Abell

President Beverly School Committee

June 4, 2024

 

 

Dear Members of the Beverly Public Schools Community,

 

We wanted to provide an update on the status of negotiations with the Beverly Teachers Association (BTA). Last night, members of the Beverly School Committee and the BTA negotiating teams met for our sixth bargaining session since February. 

 

Recognizing that BTA contracts are set to expire on August 31, 2024, and in order to prevent a disruption to our student learning this fall, our School Committee negotiating team provided the BTA with 24 date/time options throughout summer that we are available to continue negotiations. The BTA has informed us that they are not available to continue negotiations during the summer break; at this time, the remaining confirmed sessions will be June 17, June 26, and August 27 with extended length sessions.

 

We are committed to putting forth our best possible proposals and as such, presented a new Schedule A salary grid to the Unit A members yesterday. This new grid provides a minimum of a 4% and up to a 12% base salary increase for our educators in FY25. Next year this offer allows 39% of our educators to earn between a 5.6% to 6.9% raise. Our offer also includes a 3% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for FY26 and FY27, as well as continued steps/lanes and other additional compensation elements outlined by our contract. For reference, this new table would increase a new teacher with a Master’s degree starting base salary to $58,185 (from $52,827), which will allow Beverly to compete with comparable districts to attract and retain educators. 

 

Our salary grid presentation came after more than two hours of productive presentation and conversation about all the points of the BTA’s February 5th proposal related to both Special Education and Student Supports. We remain optimistic that the BTA will discuss the compensation offer for Unit A, reconsider the wage offer for Unit C, as well as all responses to proposals, in our planned upcoming sessions so that we can keep moving forward.

 

We continue to offer our thanks to our teachers, paraprofessionals, and staff for their continued dedication to the education of our students and plan to provide timely updates to the community. 

 

Sincerely,

Rachael O. Abell

President Beverly School Committee 

 

May 24, 2024

 

Dear Members of the Beverly Public Schools Community,

 

As we mentioned in our communication yesterday, we are committed to updating the community on the status of contract negotiations between the Beverly School Committee and the Beverly Teachers Association (BTA). 

 

Yesterday afternoon, the bargaining teams for Unit C, who represent 161 of the BTA paraprofessionals, and the Committee held our 4th session since bargaining began in February. The Unit C member contract expires on August 31, 2024, and the School Committee is committed to working with the BTA to reach agreement on a new contract before that time.

 

The parties met for approximately two hours yesterday. As part of a mutually agreed upon agenda for the meeting, the School Committee presented the BTA bargaining team with a competitive, three-year wage package that would increase compensation for all Unit C members by at least 25%, an increase which far out-paces traditional wage increases and which demonstrates the Committee’s commitment to reaching agreement and to increasing wages for our paraprofessionals.  The Beverly School Committee recognizes that paraprofessionals are critical to the education of our students and are integral members of the educator teams in our classrooms.  The significant pay increases proposed reflect this value.

 

The proposal includes an immediate salary increase of between $4,000 and $6,000 for each employee, in addition to wage increases of three percent for each year of the proposed three-year agreement term. This proposed compensation increase would put the wages for Beverly paraprofessionals above the wages of paraprofessionals in surrounding communities.

Although the BTA bargaining team rejected our proposal without taking time for careful consideration or meaningful discussion, we are hopeful that the BTA will reconsider the proposal and reflect on the significant increases proposed by the School Committee. We await a thoughtful counterproposal from the BTA designed to move the parties to a fair agreement.

 

We want to thank our teachers, paraprofessionals, and staff for their continued dedication to the education of our students and will continue to provide timely updates to the community.

 

Sincerely,

Rachael O. Abell

President Beverly School Committee 

May 23, 2024

Dear Members of the Beverly Public Schools Community,

As we move toward the end of this school year, I wanted to provide an update on the status of negotiations between the Beverly School Committee (School Committee) and the Beverly Teachers Association (BTA). We are extremely grateful to our teachers, paraprofessionals, and support staff and, now as negotiations continue, we want to stress that we fully expect to reach agreement on a contract which is fair to all educators and which lives within means both for the school department and the City of Beverly. 

Since initiating conversations with the BTA in late November about our interest in a successor agreement, the School Committee began regular negotiation sessions with the BTA in February with mutually agreed topics on each agenda for focus and out of respect for each other’s time and we remain committed to holding frequent negotiating sessions throughout the summer. As Chair of the Negotiations Subcommittee, I wish to update the community on our progress as often as possible, although we are hopeful that we can reach agreement with the BTA units soon.

In response to the growing community interest in our negotiations, the School Committee has asked me to share some information about our educators’ current contract so those interested have context for some of the conversations that are beginning to take place.

A few quick facts:

  • The Beverly Teachers Association (BTA) represents more than 600 educators and staff across all eight public schools in our district 
  • Currently, we are negotiating contracts for our Units A and C members
    • Unit A represents 495 educators (teachers, nurses, counselors, occupational/speech/physical therapists, OT/Speech/PT assistants)
    • Unit C represents 161 paraprofessionals
  • Contract negotiations typically occur every three years and the current contract covers the time period of June 30, 2021 through August 31, 2024; however, the law provides for the continuation of certain contract terms, including wages and leave benefits, while the School Committee and BTA negotiate a successor agreement
  • Educator salaries and benefits encompass 85% of our annual school budget; the remaining 15% funds school operational needs, including transportation, special education, curricula, and instructional materials  
  • For full-time educators, the lowest annual base salary, representing less than one percent (<1%) of our educators, is $48,131, while the highest annual base salary, representing 5.5% of our educators, is $102,747
  • Thirty-five percent (35%) of our full-time educators receive an annual base salary of between $84,366 and $91,729, and 17% between $95,380 and $102,747 excluding stipends, curriculum rates for extra assignments, and/or longevity payments that our educators also receive

The School Committee has also heard from residents with questions about how Beverly educators’ pay matches up to neighboring or similar communities. The chart below details several relevant comparisons for FY24.

FY 2024 Unit A Salary Comparison


City/Town


Bachelor’s

Bottom Step


Master’s 

Step 7


Master’s 

Top Step

Master’s
+30 credits 

Top Step

Highest Salary

Top Step

Beverly

$48,131

$70,644

$84,366

$91,729

$102,747

Salem

$51,632

$67,846

$85,394

$88,948

$94,472

Peabody

$51,333

$70,396

$89,788

$94,199

$102,664

Danvers

$52,433

$75,504

$94,379

$101,720

$113,252

Gloucester

$55,180

$65,377

$86,517

$92,540

$97,546

 

FY 2024 Unit C Wage Comparison

City/Town

Hourly Rates

Beverly

$19.21-$23.94

Salem

$21.35-$24.07

Peabody

$19.00-$23.00

Danvers

$19.35-$27.40

Gloucester

$18.51-$21.99

 

On behalf of the School Committee, I am committed to creating a regular cadence of updates for the community throughout these negotiations to share relevant information. We have heard from many residents and educators that they wish to avoid the more contentious debates that have taken place in some communities this year and we hope that by providing timely, factual information, we can keep the community and our educators informed and engaged in our efforts while reminding us all of our shared goals of providing the best possible public education to all Beverly students. We look forward to working with the BTA to reach an agreement that reflects the values of our community while remaining fiscally responsible.

In closing, we thank the educators and community members who joined our public hearing two weeks ago. Beverly is lucky to have so many people engaged in the well-being of our students and the caring adults who support them. We are committed to continuing those  solutions-oriented conversations as we work with the BTA to craft a contract our hardworking educators deserve. In fact, last night my colleagues and I passed a requested FY25 budget with an additional $1.5 Million targeted specifically at our Reserves for Negotiations to serve this end; we are optimistic our City Councilors share our imperative when they act on our request in June. We will continue to update the community when possible and, in the meantime, we encourage you to visit our website for more information. 

Sincerely, 

Rachael O. Abell

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