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Hingham Education Association, School Committee ratify three agreements: 'We stayed laser-focused on what was best for students'
Hingham Education Association, School Committee ratify three agreements: 'We stayed laser-focused on what was best for students'
Hingham Education Association, School Committee ratify three agreements: 'We stayed laser-focused on what was best for students'

Published on: 07/09/2024

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July 9, 2024 By Carol Britton Meyer

After receiving word that Hingham Education Association Units A (teachers), B (paraprofessionals), and D (administrative assistants) ratified their respective agreements on Monday (July 8),  the School Committee met on Tuesday morning — along with Select Board Chair Joseph Fisher — to discuss the three memorandums of agreement. The committee and Fisher unanimously ratified all three following many months of negotiations.

The contract with the Hingham Administrators Association was ratified earlier.

Fisher was present at the meeting because under state law, the Select Board chair is deemed to be a member of the School Committee when the committee acts to approve collective bargaining agreements.

Committee member Kerry Ni, chair of the Salary & Negotiations Subcommittee, expressed thanks to the three negotiating teams “for their time and thoughtful work on these contracts.”

Support and guidance throughout the process
She also expressed appreciation for the School Committee’s support and guidance throughout the process. “We all went into this negotiation cycle knowing that the field of education was changing, and we watched other Massachusetts school districts negotiate contracts,” Ni said. “We were also acutely aware of the need to negotiate fiscally sustainable contracts, for the benefit of students, families, staff, and the town. It was clear that there were things we needed to address” in this contract cycle.

“We heard from the teacher and paraprofessional unions about the need for higher salaries for paras. We agreed that this was a high priority for us, too, so then the question became ‘how?’ We heard about the need for more time and support for teachers, paras, and related service providers in special education, the need for equity across the union for our administrative assistants union, and about the need for paid parental leave so that the people who care so deeply for Hingham’s children are also able to care for their own,” Ni said.

The challenge, according to Ni, was to address all of those issues while also negotiating fiscally sustainable contracts. “Higher cost-of-living increases, paid parental leave, and more time for teachers and staff to collaborate and work on non-student facing tasks all have significant financial costs that compound over time, and we knew that agreeing to unsustainable contracts would have been detrimental to students and staff.”

‘We can all be proud of these contracts’
Ultimately, Ni said, “We stayed laser-focused on what was best for students, listened to the dedicated people who work with Hingham’s students about their top priorities, and also held firm to a financial position that we believe the town can afford and sustain over time. We can all be proud of these contracts, on both sides of the table.”

Ni also thanked fellow School Committee members Michelle Ayer and Tim Miller-Dempsey for the hundreds of volunteer hours they dedicated as members of the negotiating team, and also Supt. of Schools Margaret Adams, Director of Business & Support Services Aisha Oppong, and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Katie Roberts for their part.

“We started this process in November of 2022 and participated in well over 100 meetings between planning and negotiation sessions, and I know that our administrators spent many additional hours doing research and running countless financial scenarios,” Ni said. “We had so many challenging conversations because we were aware of our fiscal responsibility, but at every turn, our laser focus was always on what was best for students. We didn’t always agree at the outset, but by committing to putting students first, we came to solutions that we all can be proud of. I know we are all so happy that this process has concluded; I also want to say that it has been an absolute honor to work with you all.”
The Hingham Anchor reached out to HEA President Jacqueline Beaupre Tuesday morning after the School Committee meeting for comment. This is what she shared:

“Members of the Hingham Education Association are incredibly proud of negotiation efforts and what we won as a result. Significant wage increases for paraeducators and administrative assistants, longevity increases, paid parental leave, sick time use to care for family, caseload limits and more prep time for SPED staff to make sure our most vulnerable students have the support they need, and a commitment to healthy and safe schools for everyone are only a few of the major improvements we secured. Some of these hard-fought victories will be transformative not just for Hingham educators, but also their families, students, and colleagues around the state. To help pass the override and get through these protracted contract fights, we held countless 1:1 conversations with members, 10 minute meetings, standouts, and rallies. We had the overwhelming majority of members attend negotiation sessions and built robust contract action teams to reach unprecedented levels of communication, transparency, and strength. We thank members of the Hingham community that organized with us and voted on funding to make Hingham Public Schools a better place to work and learn. Our ratification meetings went very smoothly yesterday and we all look forward to returning in the fall with renewed energy and fewer distractions.”

Go to https://www.hinghamanchor.com/update-school-committee-working-through-union-contracts-agreements-one-ratified-three-to-go/ for contract details.

News Source : https://www.hinghamanchor.com/hingham-education-association-school-committee-ratify-three-agreements-we-stayed-laser-focused-on-what-was-best-for-students/

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