The Chelsea Teachers Union and the School Committee have agreed on new three-year contracts for teachers, paraprofessionals, and clerical staff.
The contracts, which are retroactive to July and run through the end of June, 2024, see larger than average salary increases. School and union officials said they hope the new contracts help to retain qualified teachers in the district and with the recruitment of a diverse workforce.
“I think the memorandums of agreement represent some really great gains on behalf of our paraprofessionals, our clerks, and our educators unit,” said Chelsea Teachers Union President Kathryn Anderson.
Anderson said the contracts were ratified nearly unanimously by union members.
“I look forward to continuing our work together and I really think this will go a long way toward helping retain the wonderful staff we do have in Chelsea and helping to recruit a more diverse workforce to help get our kids the education they deserve,” said Anderson.
Teachers will see a 5.25 percent salary increase in the first year of the contract, followed by a 4.25 percent increase in the second year and 4.5 percent in the third year.
“We made a very large increase to ensure that we are competitive in the surrounding area and ensuring that we are retaining staff,” said district human resources director Christine Lee, who noted that the typical annual salary increases are closer to 2 to 2.5 percent.
“This is a huge increase from what we have ever done before, and we’re happy to be able to provide these increases to our educators,” said Lee.
In addition to the salary increase, the new contract includes an increase in tuition reimbursement, two work-from-home days for counselors to write college recommendations, and two hours of classroom setup time at the beginning of the year. It also includes up to five days off for the familial loss of a pregnancy.
The paraprofessional contract has a salary increase in the first year of between 5.5 and 6.25 percent. The clerical contract also includes salary increases and an adjustment of the salary schedules so they are more in line with the teacher and paraprofessional teacher schedules.
“I think we have three contracts here that represent the heart of what we are trying to do to move the Chelsea schools forward,” said Superintendent of Schools Almi Abeyta.
School Committee member Roberto Jimenez Rivera praised the agreements as strong contracts for the teachers and the district.
“I am very happy with the way this turned out,” he said. “This is really going to allow us to retain staff that have been here for many years, and it’s going to make it more attractive for potential new hires to come to Chelsea. We’re in a time when we already had an existing educator shortage even before the pandemic and it’s only getting worse, so this is only going to set us up for success in the future.”