Spending thousands of dollars and working a second job. That’s what some teachers say it takes to work in Hartford. Contract negotiations between the Hartford Federation of Teachers and Hartford Board of Education collapsed and are now in arbitration.
On Tuesday night, dozens of teachers came out to a BOE special meeting but couldn’t get inside because it went into executive session, as previously scheduled. Instead, the teachers stood in the lobby chanting and voicing their frustrations.
“In the last three years I’ve spend over $10,000 just for school supplies for my classroom: pencils, pens, papers, books. I have to buy entire class sets of class texts just to get through the year to teach English. I’ve bought computer supplies for my computer labs simply because there’s no money,” said teacher John Tusch.
Tusch says he’s also working two jobs to make ends meet and that if the BOE’s proposal is adopted, he’ll have to increase that workload.
“I’m a single dad. I get less time with my daughter because I have to work two jobs. It’s an honor to teach. It’s an honor to teach in Hartford. But I need to be able to live a life that’s balanced, and I need to be able to take care of my own child,” said Tusch.
For the last two years Hartford teachers say they’ve had a pay freeze. The Hartford Federation of Teachers says the BOE proposed another two-year pay freeze as well as reducing the number of sick days and changing the health care coverage. With no agreement in sight, the contract goes to binding arbitration.
Teachers say this is all having an impact.
“This year is my 15th year in the classroom, and I’ve seen more teachers leave mid-year than ever before,” said teacher Tiffany Moyer-Washington.
Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez released the following statement:
“Hartford Public Schools has been committed every step of the way to maintaining the integrity of the negotiation process with respect to the teachers’ contract. From the outset, the District has held the fidelity of this process in the highest regard and has continuously negotiated in good faith. We have not and will not engage in discussion that could unintentionally derail our ongoing productive conversations. While it is unfortunate that information has been reported that is not fully representative of those conversations, we remain committed to the best interests of our District, our employees, and most importantly, our students. It is this commitment that has driven and continues to drive the District’s ongoing good faith engagement with the union toward the goal of coming to an amicable resolution.”
Teachers say they’ll be at the next regularly scheduled BOE meeting, which will be next Tuesday.