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Mayor: State Should Reward City For Landmark Teachers Contract

by Melissa Bailey | Nov 8, 2013 3:01 pm

(8) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Schools, School Reform

Melissa Bailey Photo Mayor John DeStefano celebrated a teacher vote that continued the direction of a school reform effort he launched four years ago—and called on the state to help keep it going.

DeStefano made the remarks in a press conference Friday at Hill Central School. The event celebrated the ratification of a second landmark contract for 1,640 teachers and other school-based staff in city schools. Teachers approved the contract Thursday by a margin of 10 to 1, continuing New Haven’s nascent teacher evaluation system and the direction of a school reform effort DeStefano launched four years ago.

“At a time of change,” said Superintendent Garth Harries—DeStefano is set to retire after 20 years, handing the ropes to Toni Harp on Jan. 1—“we’re still going.”

New Haven Federation of Teachers President Dave Cicarella said New Haven continues to be a national model: “This level of collaboration and cooperative effort isn’t found anywhere else.”

DeStefano echoed that point. The direction of school reform in Bridgeport and Hartford is “at best uncertain,” he noted.

He noted that New Haven has relied on federal support in its next teachers contract: The school district is banking on a $53 million Teacher Incentive Fund grant to pay for changes, including 11-percent pay raises over three years, as well as extra stipends for teachers in new leadership positions. After that time period, the grant will run out, and New Haven will have to find a new way to support its new model of teacher pay.

Just as the federal government supports districts that take initiative to reform schools in collaboration with teachers unions, the state should do the same, the mayor argued. DeStefano called on the state to “acknowledge and reward” districts like New Haven who collaborate with teachers unions in the name of school reform.

Harp Weighs In

Mayor-Elect Harp applauded the teachers contract Friday.

“I think it really begins to get everyone up to a certain competency level, and the pay reflects that,” Harp said.

She said also likes the fact that the contract offers lower-performing teachers “opportunities to get enhanced training and professional growth opportunities.”

She said her “only concern” with the contract is budgetary.

Harp said she hopes the federal government approves the idea of using special grant money for ongoing expenses like teacher salaries. Harries assured her it will, she said. “I’ve got to trust that he knows what he’s talking about.” She also expressed concern about the cost of those salaries in future years when grant money runs out. “Unless our revenues have increased somehow, it’s something we’re going to have to worry about.”

Paul Bass contributed reporting.

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posted by: AverageTaxpayer on November 8, 2013  4:07pm

Using one-time funds to give sizable raises to union employees? Is that responsible?

Could someone please tell me what happens three years from now, when these grants expire? Tick-tick-tick…

posted by: FacChec on November 8, 2013  4:26pm

I smell big tax increases in 2016, confirmed by DeStefano’s point which he never would have said if he had planned to stay in office:

“He noted that New Haven has relied on federal support in its next teachers contract: The school district is banking on a $53 million Teacher Incentive Fund grant to pay for changes, including 11-percent pay raises over three years, as well as extra stipends for teachers in new leadership positions. After that time period, the grant will run out, and New Haven will have to find a new way to support its new model of teacher pay”.

#++$$

posted by: Threefifths on November 8, 2013  4:54pm

You teachers wiil get you reward for voting on this contract.Wait when this kicks in.

Teachers Evaluations Systems, Where Tenure Is No Protection.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/24/teachers-must-make-the-grade-under-new-guidelines_n_1828406.html

posted by: Elm City Lifer on November 8, 2013  6:23pm

Another bloated teacher contract that will do nothing to improve the results of the New Haven School System. As residents we will be on the hook for paying these foolish salaries in three years if not sooner.test scores, graduation rates and all the other low performance identifiers will still shine brighter than the sun as they do now after the last “ground breaking reform contract.” When all the other unions gave up millions each year the teachers union gained millions if the police men could go back they should vote NO. If the fireman didn’t vote yet they should definitely vote NO. Atleast the fireman get their jobs done and put the fires out. What an insult to our public safety people, our taxpayers and our children.

posted by: Brutus2011 on November 8, 2013  8:55pm

1. Co-operation between the union management and the public school management can be seen as collusion or cooperation.

2. Obviously, the mayor and his NHPS managers call this laudable cooperation,

3. Interestingly, the New Haven Federation of Teachers managers agree with the managers.

I disagree. This is evidence of collusion to keep all the power and control in the hands of the managers while the teachers continue to be devalued and blamed for what the managers should be held accountable for.

Where teachers are to blame, however, is in their astonishing propensity to keep their heads buried in the sand—a position that leaves ones butt in the air as a target to be kicked.

I hope mayor-elect Harp will take a close look at the perverse incentives that allow this system of inequity to continue year after year and decade after decade.

posted by: NewHavenPublic on November 10, 2013  10:42am

In this article we have:

“Harp said she hopes the federal government approves the idea of using special grant money for ongoing expenses like teacher salaries. Harries assured her it will, she said. “I’ve got to trust that he knows what he’s talking about.” “

And in the previous article “10-to-1 Contract Vote Buoys School Reform” we were presented with:

“Critics of the contract also took issue with a clause that calls for reopening the contract if the TIF money is not available to pay for the raises. Cicarella said that won’t happen because the U.S. Department of Education has already approved using the money for raises for three years.”

So, the question remains… CAN the “Teacher Incentive Fund” money be used for the promised step increases to teachers?

posted by: mstratton on November 12, 2013  12:16am

Great to see Mayor Elect Harp concerned about the obvious. This raise relies on uncertain funding.We cannot afford this level of pay in 3 years. I love seeing teachers paid well but it should be sustainable. How about cutting the top heavy administration? 300 plus administrators taking home 200k plus a year in salary and benefits is insane in a city of our size. We need sustainable governance. Thank you Mayor-elect for pointing that out. Schools should be about kids, and that means well paid teachers, arts programs, after school programs, longer school days and a real athletics program NOT fat cats on top. Make it sustainable by cutting the fat and getting these teachers to live in the city before getting their raises. We need you guys here!

posted by: Tom Burns on November 12, 2013  11:17pm

To all you uninformed posters—the teachers union has taken a beating over the past 18 years in contract negotiations—to make sure we keep taxes low and that you can pay the other unions appropriately—NO union has taken a worse beating than us so others can get paid—we have the lowest average salary in the county and maybe in the state as well as one of the highest cost shares—WE did this for you—no other union has done this except by force—-and yet we have put New Haven on the educational map countrywide—don’t you ever take a shot at the best collection of professionals nationwide as we serve your children and our community for less than any other—-This public school district has no equal—period—so be thankful—T

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