Updated: September 20, 2023
The Hingham School Committee is the body elected by Hingham citizens, whose responsibilities include working with our employee bargaining units to reach agreement on fair, equitable, and financially sustainable contracts. All six collective bargaining units in the Hingham Public Schools are currently working under contracts that run from May 2020 through August 31, 2023, and the terms of those contracts remain in effect if new contracts are not ratified after that date.
The Hingham School Committee has been engaged in ongoing negotiations with the Hingham Education Association (HEA) Unit B (paraprofessionals) since December 2022 and with the HEA Unit A (teachers) since February 2023.
Current contract negotiations are with:
Teachers (HEA Unit A):
The school committee’s latest offer includes a 7% salary increase over three years for all teachers. In addition to the 7% over three years, all teachers receive an increase in compensation each year due to cost of living increases as well as lane increases. If you include the recent proposal of 7% with existing wage increases already in place for teachers, a teacher could average an annual salary increase of 5.25% year over year or 15.75% increase over three years.
The school committee has met with Unit A 10 times, beginning in February 2023. The school committee and Unit A have reached 22 tentative agreements.
Paraprofessionals (HEA Unit B):
Recognizing the need for an equity adjustment for our paraprofessionals, the Committee factored in an increase in cost of living adjustments for employees during the FY ‘24 override budget development process and has offered Unit B a significant pay increase which would result in competitive wages with surrounding districts. The Committee has proposed:
- Starting salary (for a first year paraprofessional with a High School diploma) of $20/hour, a 20% increase over FY ‘23
- FY ‘25 wage increases ranging from 5-15%
- FY ‘26, wage increases ranging from 4.76-14.29 %
- Increase the number of paid work days (including paid holidays and time for professional development and collaboration) to increase paraeducator annual take-home wages.
- Total annual wages ranging from $23,160 to $33,871.50 over the life of the contract
- Paraprofessionals work 1,086 (elementary) and 1,177 (secondary) hours per school year with a paid break included, or 52% of full time work. They are also paid for 10 paid holidays and two personal days per year.
- Paraprofessionals also have the opportunity to increase their district pay through school year and summer program employment opportunities.
The school committee has met with Unit B 13 times, the first on December 7, 2022. The school committee has tentatively agreed to improve certain benefits and working conditions including:
- Additional days off
- Paid time for enhanced professional development
- Paid time to collaborate with educators
- Opportunities to work additional hours to increase overall take-home wages
Custodian and Maintenance Workers Contract (HEA Unit C)
The school committee has begun negotiations with unit C.
Administrative Assistants (HEA Unit D)
The school committee has begun negotiations with Unit D.
Bus and Van Drivers
The school committee has held two sessions to negotiate a successor contract and continues negotiations with the Bus and Van Drivers union.
Administrators – Unit AA
The school committee has reached out to Unit AA to begin negotiations. The school committee is currently waiting on dates from Unit AA.
What happens if the parties do not reach contract agreements by August 31, 2023?
The Hingham School Committee strongly desires to reach agreement with our collective bargaining units as soon as possible. To that end, the committee has offered to meet over the Summer, as well as on Fridays and Saturdays. Because contract negotiations can be complicated, they are not always completed by the end of the prior contract. As in prior contract negotiation cycles when the work was ongoing, our schools will continue to operate as usual, under the terms of existing contracts, while the parties continue to negotiate. Once new agreements are reached, teachers, paraprofessionals, and members of the other bargaining units will be paid retroactively under the terms of the new contracts.
How do salaries for Hingham teachers compare to those in similar communities?
To reflect the value the town of Hingham places on education, Hingham teacher salaries are at the high end (see pg 21-22) of teacher salaries in Massachusetts and among our benchmark towns, even when factoring in the cost of benefits.
Was an increase in compensation factored into the override?
The purpose of the FY24 budget override was to secure funding to make permanent the 32 positions that were added to offset the pandemic related learning loss for our students, and to prevent teacher and staff layoffs. Throughout the budget process, the School Committee was clear on the proposed salary increases included in the override budget, which was approved by Town Meeting. Reducing or defunding other line items to meet the union’s demands would require staff layoffs, which would ultimately harm students.
Are members of the public able to observe the negotiations?
Negotiation sessions take place during executive session meetings of the school committee. Under Massachusetts State Law, discussions during executive sessions are confidential for school committee members, until an agreement is reached or until the committee votes as a body to release a statement. Historically, this has allowed for more open discussions during the bargaining sessions, however the committee also understands that the community is interested in the progress of negotiations. Consequently, the committee will update the public as frequently as possible during our full school committee meetings. Recordings of past meetings are available on Harbor Media’s Youtube Page. Please see the town Agenda Center for upcoming school committee meetings which are accessible in person and on Zoom.
The HEA has claimed that paraeducators do not earn a living wage, and some are “living in poverty.” Is that true?
Paraprofessionals (HEA Unit B):
“Living wage” and “poverty wages” is language used by the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), one of the statewide teachers unions, to which the Hingham educators belongs. During this current school year alone, these terms have been used as a negotiating strategy by at least 36 other teacher’s unions in districts across the state during collective bargaining with their districts. This language comes from a living wage calculator created by a professor at MIT, which estimates what a “living wage” is in counties across the country, based on multiple factors.
The calculator is based on a 40 hour/week, 52 weeks per year work schedule (or 2,080 hours). Comparatively, our paraprofessionals work approximately 52% of what is considered full-time working 181 days out of the year (1,086 and 1,177 hours). Unlike teachers, who have responsibilities outside of the school days, paras do not. In addition, paraprofessionals have 10 paid holidays and two personal days.
Do paraprofessionals work 6+ hours with no breaks?
No. Under the current contract, paraeducators who work five hours or more are entitled to paid breaks (30 minutes at the elementary level and 24 minutes at the secondary level).
Are paraeducators asked to substitute without compensation?
While paraeducators may be asked to cover a class for a short period, anyone who is asked to sub for a full day is compensated.
Are paraprofessionals compensated for holidays?
Yes. Paraprofessionals receive 10 paid holidays per school year. They also receive two paid personal days.
What is the average salary of Hingham teachers?
During the 2020-2021 school year, the last year reported by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the average teacher salary in Hingham was $99,261.
How are Hingham school staff health insurance contributions calculated?
Health insurance rates for all Hingham employees are the same. These benefits are negotiated with the Town of Hingham and not with the Hingham School Committee.
Has the School Department used all of the money allocated to paraprofessional salaries in past years?
In FY21 and FY22, the schools utilized fewer paraeducator hours than budgeted, allowing the school department to allocate those funds to support other budget line items, including substitute pay and other immediate needs directly benefiting students.