Friday, April 19, 2024


CEA-logoMembers of the Cambridge Education Association voted 380-354 on Thursday against their proposed contract, according to sources in the education community who shared the results.

That makes it likely teachers will enter a second year without a contract (although they did have a contract agreement) and throw a plan for a longer school day into turmoil just as the School Committee wraps up business ahead of a roughly two-month hiatus.

There were 859 members of the association eligible to vote, meaning there was 85 percent turnout on a vote to ratify a contract for bargaining units A and B, representing teachers and administrators. The agreement would essentially have covered four years, from September 2012 through August 2016, because the units have already been working for a year without one.

Neither Chris Colbath-Hess, president of the association, nor Fred Fantini, vice chairman of the School Committee, returned calls Thursday to discuss the ramifications of the “no” vote.

Among the key issues for this contract – and the one that has generated the most discussion among teachers and parents, including a 100-signature petition in opposition – was the district adding an hour to the school day starting in the 2014-15 school year, with classes beginning at 7:25 a.m. at the earliest and ending at 3:30 p.m. at the latest, according to a copy of the proposed contract. How the time would be used had not been decided.

The petition includes signers identifying themselves as parents such as Julie Viens, who pleads, “Can we figure out the Innovation Agenda first? One major, sweeping, drastic change at a time, please!”

And from signers identifying themselves as students such as Ruby Booz:

As a high school student who does not get enough sleep already, I think it is horrifying that they would ask us to wake up even earlier. I understand where this idea is coming from, but we take classes that are 80 minutes long … I don’t feel I need more time in each class. I also participate in two sports programs that take place at least five days a week, and am taking AP classes that give a huge amount of work that would be extremely difficult to balance if I were in school for an extra hour. And if the intention of the school board is to ultimately raise test scores, then is asking students to sleep less and still try to focus in even longer classes really going to be an effective way to do that?

The contract would also have provided raises, including cost of living adjustments of 2.5 percent in the next school year (and an additional 0.5 percent increase for the current year’s 2 percent agreement) and 2 percent in each of the following two years, and bring no class size changes, 10 early release days instead of the current half-dozen and, the proposed contract says, a stronger voice for teachers “in any changes and decisions” on use of the added hour and changes to job evaluation and District Determined Measures.

This story was updated June 21, 2013, to correct that there was a contract agreement if not a contract for the current school year and add comments from a petition. It may be updated further.