LYNN — Lynn Public School teachers will receive a 2 percent raise for two years under the terms of a new agreement.
The Lynn Teachers Union, which has 1,248 members, and the School Committee have agreed to a two-year teachers’ contract, which includes raises, a step wage increase, higher pay for substitutes, and more preparation time for elementary school teachers.
“We work really hard and respect is shown through how you value us, and that’s one of the ways you can show us our value,” said Sheila O’Neil, president of the Lynn Teachers Union. “I’m happy with what we were able to get, considering the city’s financial needs.”
Eliminated from the agreement was a flat fee for teachers who travel, which was changed to payment by the mile under IRS guidelines.
“We have some of the most extensive changes in the past 20 years in this contract,” said School Committee member Michael Satterwhite. “We are more competitive and spending wisely.”
The contract has been ratified by the union and was approved by the School Committee last week after 11 months of negotiations. Talks had been stalled because of the city’s unstable financial condition, and were halted entirely for health insurance negotiations in the spring. The union had been operating under an expired contract since Aug. 31, 2018.
The new agreement is retroactive to Sept. 1 and expires on Aug. 31, 2021. All teachers will receive a 2 percent raise for this school year, and the same for next year. A 2 percent raise equates to about a $2.6 million increase in spending, according to Superintendent Dr. Patrick Tutwiler.
Also negotiated was an additional $500 to existing step increases for the first five years of a teacher’s employment in the district, or new teachers without longevity pay, which makes Lynn more competitive in comparison to surrounding districts, according to O’Neil.
Increased pay for teachers was made possible because of an approximate $19 million increase in Chapter 70 state aid to the schools. Still raises are lower than the 2½ percent given in the last contract, O’Neil said.
Substitute pay increases from $75 to $100, with building substitute pay increasing from $100 to $130.
Tutwiler said he was happy with the contract because of the balance of the economic package and some of the working conditions, pointing to the increase in preparation time for elementary school teachers. Starting next school year, those teachers will be given an extra 40-minute session of prep time per week, or four sessions instead of three.
Tutwiler said the demand on elementary educators is high, and the extra period will allow them time to complete the “ever-increasing” amount of tasks related to the job, which includes assessing student work and reaching out to parents.
“It’s something I understand they’ve been asking for, for a long time,” said Tutwiler. “From my standpoint, it’s not a function of just giving folks what they ask for. It’s about trying to understand the need and trying to create a better working condition for a critical piece of the operation.”
Both O’Neil and Tutwiler credited the collaborative nature of the negotiations, which led to the two sides coming to an amicable agreement.
“I feel like we didn’t have to compromise,” said O’Neil. “I felt like it was very collaborative. We worked together for the first time in many years. LPS had proposals. Many of our proposals were similar. (We were) like-minded in what we wanted to do for the city.”
The teachers’ contract follows a Health Insurance Memorandum of Agreement reached over the summer between the city and its dozen unions, including the teachers’ union. The memorandum provides health insurance coverage from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022 and a 1½ percent retroactive raise for fiscal year 2019.