Explaining proposed teachers contract

To the Editor:

I am writing to correct misinformation being distributed in our community and in letters to this publication regarding the proposed Hollis Brookline Co-op teachers contract for fiscal 2016-18. Although the contract includes many educational elements, critics have focused solely on the cost of the proposed contract.

It might come as a surprise to many taxpayers that, for many years, our high school and middle school teachers have been paid less than the teachers in our elementary schools with the same level of experience and the same credentials. The current co-op salary table is substantially lower than those of our elementary districts, more than 10 percent in many positions. Simply put, the proposed contract attempts to put the co-op teachers on a pay scale equal to our teachers in the elementary schools.

The proposed co-op salary table for fiscal 2017-18 (two years away) is a merger of the existing Hollis and Brookline pay tables for fiscal 2016-17 (one year away). The proposed fiscal 2016-17 co-op salary table closes half the gap. Why not achieve parity next year? The staff and school board want to ease the tax impact by forgoing almost $200,000 in salary and benefits, translating into savings for taxpayers.

Almost half of the co-op teachers, those who are already "off the table" because of their long service in the district, will receive only a 1.5 percent raise in year one and 1 percent in year two of the contract. The salary table, which covers newer co-op teachers, increases each contract year, bringing co-op salaries closer to parity with our elementary salaries. Based on current staffing, the total increases in salary and benefits are 3.9 percent in year one and 3.7 percent in year two, similar to other contracts and much less than reported inaccurately by others.

SAU41 serves all our households and all our students. Paying our middle and high school teachers comparably to our elementary school teachers is right, is fair, and will help maintain the quality of our staff and of our schools. Please come to the annual Co-op District Meeting at Hollis Brookline High School on March 23 and vote "Yes" on Warrant Article 1.

Tom Solon
Hollis Brookline Co-op School Board member