Teachers’ Union Holds Rally at High School

Chelsea teachers, educators, staff, and community rallied outside Chelsea High School on Wednesday afternoon as the Chelsea Teachers’ Union prepared for another negotiating session for a new contract with district representatives.

Members of the union have been calling for investments in the schools that include appropriate class sizes, more social workers and English as a Second Language (ESL) educators, librarians in every school, adequate prep time for staff who do translation work, and competitive pay to improve the district’s educator retention rate.

More than 100 teachers and educators gathered at CHS Wednesday afternoon at a rally to support changes investments in the school district.

“We’ve seen movement from the district on the (paraprofessional) contracts in terms of wages and in terms of compensation for translation,” said Kathryn Anderson, president of the union. “We have still not seen movement on having smaller class sizes or on wages for the teachers, so we are really hoping that the rally just demonstrates that the whole membership is standing behind us, that the teachers and students and community members are standing together for smaller class sizes and more competitive pay to keep our teachers here.”

While the school district has been taking steps to recruit and retain a more diverse teaching staff, Anderson said the lack of compensation compared to surrounding communities is a big factor in all Chelsea teachers, including teachers of color, leaving the district.

Teacher salaries are 16 percent higher in Everett, and nearly 29 percent higher in Boston, Anderson said.

Anderson said there is also a great need for smaller class sizes and better working conditions.

“We need more prep time to make sure we are keeping the most qualified teachers here,” she said. “When there are 30 kids in a room versus 25 kids in a room, it makes a big difference on a day-to-day basis just on how much attention you can give to each of the students, how much individualized support you can provide and how much feedback you can give. With the labor shortages we have already, the more we can retain the teachers, the better the conditions are going to be for our kids.”

Anderson said the union was hoping to see some movement from the district in the negotiations planned for Wednesday afternoon.

School Committee Chair Kelly Garcia said she is hopeful an agreement can be reached soon that is beneficial to all sides.

“I know that Superintendent Dr. (Almi) Abeyta and her team are working diligently with the Chelsea Teachers’ Union to reach an agreement during this collective bargaining process,” Garcia said. “As a School Committee, we care deeply about ensuring that a fair and equitable agreement is reached for both sides.  I am confident that we are making progress and hope to have an agreement soon.”

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