Editor's note: The following letter is in response to the editorial, "Nauset Regional's opaque contract", which was posted on CapeCodToday.com on April 14, 2011.
Dear Mr. Brooks,
I am writing in response to your recent "editorial." First, let me say that I am not in charge of what gets reported in the newspapers. In fact, I was interviewed extensively for an article in the Cape Cod Times but only a small blurb on the inside cover was used. Second, I have a phone. If you had questions that you thought would be important to your readers, you could have called me to get answers directly.
I am not going to list here the various issues that were discussed or changed during our negotiations with Nauset's teachers. I will, however, continue to thank the teachers for stepping up to the plate and accepting no cost of living pay raise next year. If they had insisted on a 2% raise next year, where many area teachers' contracts have settled, it would have cost Nauset about $400,000. Once the contract is printed, we will post it to our website where all of our current contracts are posted for anyone to see. That's full transparency!
Does our teachers' contract include "step raises?" Yes, as do 99% of teachers' contracts in the United States. Steps provide an incentive to become a teacher where the starting salary in Nauset is $40,736. That's after the person has spen 4-5 years in college amassing thousands of dollars in loans. Nauset's step raises end in the 15th year of employment. Only about 1/3 of Nauset's teachers are compensated in this way. That means 2/3 of our teachers get no raise next year.
In Nauset the percentage of employer paid health insurance is 70%, which is similar to most school and municipal levels of compensation. This benefit was in the contract long before I arrived and it is not something that one can change for one type of municipal employee, i.e.: school employees. One aspect of health insurance that Superintendents have been lobbying for over the years is to get the State to either require participation in the GIC if it's less expensive (state employee plan) or remove health insurance benefits from Chapter 150 collective bargaining laws. We're still waiting on this.
Let me close by clearly stating that Nauset's teachers are one of the finest groups of caring and dedicated professionals. They worked collaboratively during negotiations, seeking to help sustain our wonderful school system while accepting a fair and reasonable contract. I applaud them and all of the staff of the Nauset Public Schools.
Richard J. Hoffman, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Nauset Regional School System