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After more than a year of talks, the Cambridge School Committee and the Cambridge Teachers Association (CTA) have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract, officials with both sides announced yesterday.
Details of the deal were not disclosed at yesterday's press conference. But sources told The Crimson the deal will include a pay raise for teachers, provisions for special needs students and individual accounts that teachers can use to purchase classroom supplies.
CTA President Roger O'Sullivan praised Anthony D. Galluccio, Cambridge's newly-elected mayor, as the "driving force" in marathon negotiating sessions that resulted in what he called a "fair and equitable" settlement.
The two sides reached a tentative agreement in the early morning hours of Feb. 20, though the announcement was delayed a week during the schools' vacation.
"The outstanding variable of not having a permanent mayor was an issue," said Galluccio. "It was a deterrent to final settlement."
Cambridge had been operating under acting Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 for almost two months after the City Council was unable to elect a permanent mayor in December.
The pace of talks had picked up even before Galluccio's Feb. 15 election, however. District and union officials agreed earlier this month to incorporate talks on the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS) restructuring with the ongoing contract negotiations.
The school committee had initially resisted including details of the CRLS restructuring--scheduled to take place next fall--in the broader contract.
Still, school committee member Nancy G. Walser said she agreed that Galluccio's presence made a difference.
"It was good to have the permanent [school committee] chair on our team," she said. "There was a sense we were ready to wrap things up."
During the press conference, Galluccio and O'Sullivan said they could not elaborate on specifics of the agreement until the union members ratify the contract and the school committee votes to approve it.
O'Sullivan said CTA leaders would meet today to decide when and where they will hold the ratification vote. He said union bylaws require that the members have five to ten days to look over the contract before deciding whether or not to accept it.
If ratified by the CTA and approved by the school committee, the contract will be in effect for the next two school years and will be retroactive for the current year.
Those familiar with the agreement would not characterize the size of the pay raise in the contract.
A source familiar with the agreement said the contract will include provisions to make sure special needs students are included in regular-education classrooms and to give teachers training in how to teach special needs students. Union leaders had singled out these measures as one of their top priorities.
The source also said that teachers will be given individual accounts of several hundred dollars for buying classroom supplies. This addresses a long-time complaint of parents in the district that classrooms lack basic school supplies, like tissues and construction paper--supplies many teachers found themselves paying for out of their own pockets.
The contract will also adjust the school calendar, moving two teacher professional days to the end of summer, rather than interrupting school and making two four-day weeks during the year.
Teachers will also be given more time for parent-teacher conferences. A handshake seals the deal
A handshake seals the deal
A handshake seals the deal
Just over 30 hours after his victory, Galluccio joined the negotiations--in time for a 20-hour marathon session at the Royal Sonesta Hotel.
"I said we weren't going to leave the Sonesta until we had the contract settled," Galluccio said.
The session lasted from 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16, past 5 a.m. the next morning. At the end, the two sides had a "handshake deal" on salaries and on most other provisions, except issues related to the CRLS restructuring.
"I thought I was going to be moral support," Galluccio said.
But he said that when Roberta Golick, a private mediator who has been working with the parties since early January, asked him to play a more active role, he pushed for a quick settlement. He said he viewed himself as something of a fresh outsider, not worn out by months of talks, and didn't want to lose that advantage.
After a while, "you become part of the scenery, just one of the negotiators," he said.
The two sides left the CRLS issues unresolved until that Friday. With a snow emergency outside, they met in the mayor's office that night. As Golick talked with them on a speaker phone, they reached the tentative agreement around 1:20 a.m. Saturday morning, O'Sullivan said.
At 9 p.m., O'Sullivan boarded a plane for Ireland, where he spent his spring vacation.
Son of a four-term member of the Cambridge school committee, Galluccio said the rapid change the district is undergoing now--with the high school restructuring set for the fall and the expected approval later this month of an elementary school merger--made this contract a difficult one to negotiate.
But he said the resolution marked a "new spirit of cooperation" and that the talks were thorough enough to allow the changes to move forward smoothly.
"Not much ground wasn't covered in these negotiations," Galluccio said.
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