Proposed Concord teachers’ contract would cost district $1M more each year

  • Teachers from the Concord school district pack the meeting room during a Concord School Board meeting on Monday, October 1, 2018. The teachers are currently without a contract for the first time in several years. Caitlin Andrews

Monitor staff
Published: 11/24/2018 7:47:16 PM

The proposed teachers’ contract in Concord will add more than $1 million in new spending to the school district’s annual budget, should it be passed Monday.

In the first year of the three-year contract, minimum teacher pay would rise to $43,237 – a 4 percent increase – for a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree, and $47,561 for a teacher with a master’s degree. Minimum teacher pay would increase by 2 percent in years two and three.

District business administrator Jack Dunn said one of the goals during negotiations was to raise the base pay for new teachers to attract young, talented employees.

Maximum teacher pay increases about 2 percent each year of the contract, going from $88,268 in year one to $91,837 in year three for teachers with at least 30 credit hours beyond a master’s degree.

“It has been a longstanding objective of the Concord school board to hire and retain the best teachers available and provide them with wages and benefits that are among the best in the state,” the district stated in its October negotiation update. “The offers put forth during the negotiations were consistent with this objective.”

Overall, the contract would increase spending the first year by $1,225,000 – with $980,000 going toward salaries, $170,000 toward retirement contributions, and $75,000 in social security. The school district’s current budget is about $87.1 million.

The contract gives second, third and fourth-year teachers bigger proportional raises than teachers who have been in the district longer.

The proposed agreement is expected to be voted on during a special school board meeting Monday night. Public comment on the contract will be allowed prior to the board’s vote.

Healthcare remains relatively untouched, with the district continuing to pay 95 percent of the health insurance premiums for the majority of teachers and 85 percent for those hired after June 30, 2015.

Teachers will continue to have 20 sick days a year, with an ability to accrue up to 175 days off.

Concord teachers are among the highest-paid educators in the state. Last year, Concord teachers made an average salary of $73,531, which is the eighth-highest in the state, according to Department of Education data. Regionally, no other school district comes close. However, averages can be skewed by teacher experience.

A district with many young teachers will typically have a lower average salary than a district with a majority of teachers at or near the top step of the pay scale. In Concord, 227 teachers are at the top step, while 137 teachers are in their first 15 years with the district, Dunn said.

Average teacher pay in nearby Hopkinton last year was $64,315 and $62,884 in Bow, both about $10,000 less than in Concord.

In terms of starting pay, Concord teachers were 25th highest among the 155 public school districts in the state, with a minimum starting salary of $40,765 during the 2016-17 school year. The closest area school districts with comparable starting salaries were Weare and Henniker, where starting teachers make about $1,000 less than Concord.

The previous teacher contract expired Aug. 31 and the school year started without any pay increases.

After nearly a year of negotiating, the last hurdles to the negotiations – retroactive pay, co-curricular stipends and salary increases for teachers in their early years – came together within the last month, according to a timeline of the negotiations. The union voted to ratify the contract earlier in November.

Retroactive pay is expected to kick in sometime in December or January, Dunn said.

In exchange for retroactive pay, teachers have to work five extra hours in the spring for two “Back to School” type events.

The Concord School District negotiations committee voted 4-0 to recommended the contract be approved.

Monday’s special board meeting will start at 5:45 p.m. at the SAU building at 38 Liberty St.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews. Jonathan Van Fleet contributed to this report.)

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