SWL: Regional School Committee news – ARHS 3 year teacher contract agreement and keeping religious holidays

Southborough Wicked Local has shared two stories out of this week’s Northborough Southborough Regional School Committee meeting.

An agreement has been reached on teachers’ 3 year contract and the school calendar will include time off for 3 religious holidays that were proposed to be nixed.

Algonquin teachers agree to 3-year contract – March 21, 2014

Algonquin Regional High School teachers have agreed to terms on a new three-year contract, Superintendent Charles Gobron announced Wednesday.

The teachers will receive increases of 1.5 percent in fiscal 2015, 2 percent in fiscal 2016 and 1.8 percent in fiscal 2017, Gobron told members of the Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee.
Gobron said the negotiations included changes to the structure of teacher contracts that should correct “inequalities” between pay grades that have developed over time.

Like many districts, the high school uses a system of “steps and lanes” that rewards teachers for advancing in their own personal education and for the amount of time they’ve been with the schools.

“The first year of the contract includes an adjustment which resulted in step equity – normalizing the dollar increments between steps – and retaining teachers at their current steps with no advancement,” Gobron said. . .

According to the most recent budget, contractual obligations at Algonquin are projected to rise by $567,571 total for fiscal 2015. That includes increases for all school employees, including the secretaries and janitors. . .

[Regional School Committee member Paul Butka] said the tweaks to the steps and lanes are important because the system had become “skewed” over the years and will now be more consistent. (read more)

Algonquin High to keep religious holidays – March 19, 2014

Members of the Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee Wednesday approved a calendar that protects religious holidays that were on the chopping block earlier this winter.

The committee – which heard from dismayed parents and religious leaders in January – approved the calendar unanimously.

Though the Northborough and Southborough K-8 committees have yet to formally approve calendars, each has indicated it intends to also retain the holidays. (read more)

(Photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

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Frank Crowell
10 years ago

Just a couple of questions ………. Or maybe three.

What is the average teacher pay now at ARHS?

What will it be in three years?

What did the “tweaks” to steps and lanes save us?

Maybe someone up for reelection can answer those.

SB Resident
10 years ago

“Gobron said Thursday that while the step and lanes expand the raises – a 2 percent increase can become a 4 or 5 percent increase.” “It’s not out of line at all with what area towns are doing,” he said.

The problem is that it is out of line with the income of the town.

According to this website, the median income from 2000 was 102K and in 2011 it was 130K. The average income would need to be 176.5K to keep up with a 5 percent increase in teacher salary per year over that period.

I’m not against paying our teachers a fair market value and/or giving them a fair cost of living increase, but the reality is we aren’t and we are on an unsustainable tragectory. I’m disappointed in the school board for not understanding this simple math.

Al Hamilton
10 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo


I regret that there is a lot of misinformation about his subject. Here are the basic facts.

Average Teacher Salaries from 2006 to 2012 at Algonquin rose from $59,513 to $83,573. This equates to an increase of 5.8% per year across all pay grades. It is, therefore, mathematically impossible for pay raises of 4 or 5% to only apply to teachers at the bottom of the pay scale.

The data is available for all to see. (at least through 2012) http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/teacher.aspx?orgcode=07300000&orgtypecode=5&leftNavId=815&

During the same period average teacher salaries state wide went from $56,366 to $70,962 this reflects an average annual increase of 3.9%

If you assume that the vast majority of the $567,000 wage increase will be divided by the 100 teachers at Algonquin then we are talking about across the board increases in the 5% range. (75% of $567,000=$425,250. $425,000/100 teachers = $4250/teacher. $4250/$83573=5.08%)

I have no problem with paying teachers well for quality instruction and do not want to be seen as a teacher basher, my mom was a teacher. However, the wage bill for teachers in our community accounts for almost 1/2 of our total budget. We really should expect a much more transparent and forthright explanation of where the money is going from our Superintendent and Elected Leaders. Unfortunately that does not seem to be our tradition.

Al Hamilton
10 years ago


I understand, what I am trying to suggest is that, like we have been told in the past the numbers don’t add.

We regularly hear about 1 1.5 or 2% increase for teachers when the reality has been much much more. That is the reason I included the history.

The statement above was that teachers will receive a 1.5% increase and that some more junior teachers might receive as much as 4% or 5%. But, the amount of money being requested suggests that the overall average for all teachers is closer to 5%. I did an analysis of the steps and lanes in the last contract and there were a number of cases where raises, well in excess of 4% or 5% were built into the structure.

I think we should expect more thoughtful and forthright disclosure from our leaders about what we are really paying for a particular service. For the record I don’t think it is crazy to pay a teacher $83k or more if they are doing a good job. Done well, teaching is hard work.

Al Hamilton
10 years ago

I pulled a copy of the existing Algonquin Teachers Contract and performed an analysis on all of the components of compensation to try and come up with an estimate of the average annual increase for a teacher at Algonquin. Please note that I am trying to present facts as opposed to value judgments about whether the compensation is appropriate. That is an important discussion but not relevant here.

To do the analysis we have to define a “typical” teacher and then walk him or her through the contract. I have defined the teacher as a professional who comes to work for us at age 23 with a bachelors degree and works for us for 36 school years retiring at age 60. This person proceeds through the Steps and Lanes and achieve Step 11 and CAGS/M+36 Lane (this is the5th of 6 lanes) according to the 2012-13 Step and Lane chart. This person does not receive any stipends for coaching, department chair or advising. This person does receive longevity pay, and early retirement benefits. I have used an average “base raise” of 1.77% which is the average raise in the just negotiated contract for the duration of the employment and have applied this to the longevity pay as well.

Here are the results:

Starting Salary – $43,105

Salary at the End of 36 School Years – $181,636 (remember this is in 2049 dollars)

Average Annual Increase – 4.21%

Examples of Large Possible Annual Increase – Step 3 B+15 Lane to Step 4 Masters Lane 10.82% + 1.77% Base Raise = 12.59%, Step 1 Bachelors Lane to Step 2 Bachelors Lane 5.33% + 1.77% Base Raise =7.1%. Year 35 with announced intent to retire 10%+1.77% Base Raise =11.77%

Years when it is possible to only receive a “Base Raise” (assuming no change in Lane Status) Years 13, 14, 16, 17,18,19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34 (18 out of 36)

If anyone has the most recent agreement I would be happy to do a similar analysis.

Once again, my intent is not to bash teachers but rather to apply facts and basic analysis (no calculus or matrix math is required) to provide an accurate description of what is in these agreements and to contrast with facts the statements of our public officials which, in my opinion, are not fully forthcoming about the true nature and cost of these agreements.

Frank Crowell
10 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

Al – We’ll probably see the new contract after the annual budget is passed. Having your analysis on the new contract before TM would be good for all to see.

SB Resident
10 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

I’m also curious (and too lazy to check) what retirement benefits are still included in these contracts. When comparing teacher compensation to other fields (most of which don’t get pensions anymore) that factor is relevant as well.

Tom Marcoulier
10 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

Al, Thank you, your view point is always interesting.

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