ConnCAN's New Statewide Database Details Teachers' Contracts By School District
Interactive Site Includes Length Of Workday, Class Size Limits, Salary Levels, Performance Pay, Reduction In Workforce Provisions And Evaluation Procedures
By KATHLEEN MEGAN
June 20, 2012
A new interactive database offers details and analysis of teachers' contracts for almost every local education agency in the state, reporting on salary levels, class size limits, performance pay, sick days and other factors.
The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, known as ConnCAN, compiled the data from 173 of the 174 school districts, including traditional public school districts, regional districts, charter schools and the state vocational-technical high school system.
The database, which the New Haven non-profit organization released Wednesday, is at http://teachercontracts.conncan.org/.
Patrick Riccards, ConnCAN's chief executive officer, said the data provide "transparency into how our local school districts are run. … This is a positive step that allows us to compare and make sure all districts are striving for the best contract possible."
Emily Cohen, district policy director for the Washington D.C.-based National Council on Teacher Quality, said the database will be valuable because often the argument during contract negotiations is "We can't do this because of the contract."
This way, she said, the public will know what's in their school district's contract and how it compares with others. The collective bargaining agreements are subject to public disclosure, Riccards said, but often they are difficult to obtain and a database has not been available to compare them.
Riccards said that ConnCAN's effort, which began last summer, was inspired by the National Council on Teacher Quality's 2007 national database of selected cities, including New Haven and Hartford.
Cohen said that, as far as she knows, ConnCAN's database is the first statewide database.
Eric Excell-Bailey, spokesman for the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut, cautioned that in some cases the data can be misleading or comparisions may not be appropriate between wealthier districts and poor ones. In addition, he said, some districts have policy agreements on key issues that are not included in a contract.
Excell-Bailey also said that ConnCAN should have included data from the state's 22 charter schools. Riccards said that only three charter schools were included because the project concerned collective bargaining agreements and only three of the charter schools are unionized.
Robert Rader, executive director of the Connecticut Association of School Boards, said he will encourage districts to take a look at the data. He said that often it's not easy to obtain contracts even though they are public and that it can be labor-intensive to try to compare them.
"If they don't think it's appropriate for their negotiators to discuss, they don't have to use it," Rader said of the database, "but it's good overall information."
The database allows users to enter up to four school districts at a time for comparison purposes, breaking out key data in charts while also allowing users to click on the full contract.
The website also provides analytical charts and interesting details about various districts. For instance, seniority is the only factor considered during layoffs for tenured teachers in 61 percent or 104 of the districts.
But when the seniority of two teachers is the same, tie-breaker provisions range from a coin toss or a lottery in West Haven, to the date of a teacher's birthday in Stamford, the last four digits of a Social Security number in Hartford, and the level of commitment to extracurricular activities in Region 8 and Wolcott.
The data showed that the average starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree is $42,450 and starting salaries ranged from $36,000 to $38,000 in Ansonia, Lebanon and nine other districts, to $50,001 to $52,000 in Franklin, Greenwich and Region 9.
The maximum salary for a teacher with a master's degree ranged from $65,000 to $70,000 in Ashford, Sterling, Union and a few other districts, to $95,001 to $100,000 in Darien, Greenwich and New Canaan.
Teachers are required to remain in the classroom after school has ended for as little as five minutes to as much as 42 minutes.
Riccards said it is clear that many teachers work much longer days and more days — including setting up classrooms during the summer — than what their contracts require.
Sixty districts — 36 percent — had a district-wide salary step freeze in 2011-2012; 64 percent districts did not.
According to the database, the maximum number of sick days that a teacher can accrue upon retirement ranges from 150 days in cities such as Danbury and East Haven to 230 days in East Haddam.
A spokesman for the state Department of Education said state officials have not had a chance to look closely at the website yet.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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