After nearly a year of negotiations, Nantucket’s public school teachers reached an agreement on a new three-year contract just as students returned to the classroom.
The Nantucket Teachers’ Association and the School Committee on Friday ratified a new collective bargaining agreement that includes salary increases of at least 5 percent each year, one-time “market adjustment” payments, reductions in faculty meetings and professional development days, as well as an increase in the school day for students starting next year.
The agreement comes after the two sides had reached an impasse in June, and agreed to a mediation session that occurred in late July.
“Obviously I’m deeply relieved,” said Nantucket Teachers’ Association president Page Martineau. “No one wants to go into the school year at odds with the administration. It’s good to put it to bed.”
Martineau did not disclose the specific vote of the union membership but said it was overwhelmingly in favor of the contract agreement the negotiating team reached with the School Committee. Those terms include:
- Teachers will receive pay increases of 5 percent, 5 percent, and 5.25 percent over the next three years
- Teachers will receive a one-time $2,500 "market adjustment" payment, similar to what other town of Nantucket employee unions have received
- 10 minutes will be added to students' school day Monday through Thursday starting in 2024-25 school year
- Reductions in mandatory faculty meetings (down to once per month instead of twice per month) and professional development days (reduced from six to five)
"I am very pleased that we were able to reach an agreement quickly and amicably after a long year,” Superintendent Beth Hallett said. “Each side feels that this is a fair contract that will benefit everyone. Mediation was very helpful. Both sides agreed that we needed a little help from a third-party mediator to get ‘unstuck’ and move forward.”
The two most challenging issues, Hallett said, were the pay increases and the increased time on learning for students.
The salary increases and market adjustment payments are in line with what other town of Nantucket unions have received in recent months, although the police unions were able to secure market adjustments of $10,000 for their members.
For the Teachers’ Association, the ratification of the agreement brought an end to nearly a year of negotiations that was highlighted by its members putting increasing pressure on the school administration and School Committee to meet its demands related to compensation and required meetings outside the classroom. As those talks reached an impasse earlier this year, members gathered outside negotiating meetings in large numbers to cheer on their leadership, playing songs from the “Rocky” soundtrack and wearing “Fair Contract Now” buttons.
“The administration came in with more student time on learning as a big piece for them,” Martineau said. “The teachers came in thinking the past few years have been the toughest teaching years of anyone’s career, without a doubt, with what we’ve been facing and the fallout of the pandemic and the difficulty of getting back into a school routine. It’s still here, what we’ve been dealing with, the kids struggling mentally and needing more of us. Compound that with the struggles of staffing, which is true everywhere, but made worse here because when people leave it’s harder to hire people. We came in thinking we wanted to get paid more and would love to get some time that we ourselves are in control of. There’s a lot of meetings on our calendar.”
Martineau noted that during the last collective bargaining negotiations in March of 2020 - just at the outset of the pandemic - teachers agreed to low cost-of-living-adjustments under the assumption that the national economy was headed for a challenging period. The goal this time around, she said, was to make up some of that ground that was lost.
“I’m sure there may be people who wished we had pushed for more,” Martineau said. “But our team, we came back with what was the best deal we thought we could get and we worked hard to get there and feel good about it.”