It is with a tremendous amount of disappointment and frustration that I am writing this message to you this late in the evening. After days of fruitful and collaborative planning and negotiations with the superintendent and members of the School Committee’s bargaining team, we are once again faced with the metaphorical rug being pulled out from underneath us. In what feels like a cruel April Fool’s joke, the School Committee rejected our tentative agreement in regard to the Memorandum of Understanding we shared with you earlier today.
The issue – for three School Committee members – is over fulfilling their financial obligations to those receiving stipends for year-long activities such as clubs and other differential positions. Unfortunately, though the agreement calls for tremendous effort and sacrifice from our membership for the duration of this shutdown, some School Committee members believe that the progress we have made should be held up over a few thousand dollars. It should be lost on no one that educators throughout the district have been underpaid for generations to begin with. In the grand scope of the schools’ budget, these moneys are a mere drop in the bucket. However, for many of our members who are facing layoffs in their second and third jobs, increased domestic responsibilities, and confusing and often conflicting directives from their administrators, these stipends are vital for their professional and personal stability. If nothing else, these stipends should be considered back pay for work already done. The value these educators bring to students’ and families’ lives is worth far more than what we are asking for.
This money was budgeted and encumbered by city government last year. The School Committee should do the right thing and fulfill their obligation. It simply comes down to a matter of respect and fairness for Haverhill educators who continue to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Our hope is that some School Committee members can rise above small-minded ideologies that are unhelpful in the best of times and downright harmful in these times of great crisis.
I will update you all tomorrow after we have an opportunity to discuss this matter further with the School Committee. Tomorrow’s town hall scheduled for 12:00 can be accessed via this link: