The Portland Board of Public Education voted unanimously at its Oct. 18 meeting to approve a new three-year contract with the Portland Education Association for Educational Technicians, the union representing the district’s ed techs.
The new agreement runs from Sept. 1, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2024. Pay increases agreed upon in the contract are retroactive to that Sept. 1, 2021 date.
“Ratifying this collective bargaining agreement with our Educational Technician’s unit is an important move forward for our district,” said Superintendent Xavier Botana. “This contract recognizes the important work that these key employees perform. This contract was needed to allow us to be competitive with neighboring districts.”
The union had a previous two-year contract with the Board that ran until the summer of 2020. However, in the spring of 2020, at the start of the COVID pandemic, the union agreed to extend its existing contract for an additional year through June of 2021. Since that date, the two sides have been meeting and working on reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.
Board Chair Figdor said the agreement was the result of both sides investing significant amounts of time and energy to reach a successful conclusion. "Thank you to everyone who participated," Figdor said. “I know this took a year of work and was not easy at times. I really deeply appreciate everyone coming together at the end. I think this is a good contract.”
She stressed the importance of ed techs to the district. “You’re central to our work. You’re the glue,” Figdor said.
Jennifer Cooper, ed tech union president, thanked members of that negotiating team and said, “We’re pleased to have settled this contract.”
On the district’s negotiating team were Executive Director of Human Resources Barbara Stoddard; Ocean Avenue Elementary School Principal Beverly Stevens; Director of Student Support Services Jesse Applegate; Board member Yusuf Yusuf and the district’s chief negotiator, attorney Campbell Badger, who is a Portland resident and taxpayer.
Cooper said the educational technician unit’s negotiators included herself; the unit’s former president, Michele Lawless; union Vice President Shana Blotner; chief negotiator Beth Romano-Arsenault; and PEA President Kerrie Dowdy.
Some key provisions of the new contract are:
● Annual wage and step pay increases that total 5.4 percent, 4.4 percent, and 4.4 percent over the three-year term of the contract. The total increase over the life of the contract will be $969,707 or 14.94 percent.
● Establishing a Sick Leave Bank that allows employees to donate up to three personal days to the bank, in addition the 15 sick days employees can accrue each year.
● Giving the district the ability to schedule in-house professional development workshops and training for individual employees and programs, including on early release days.
● An increase in the pay differential for an educational technician who substitutes for a classroom teacher ($45 for full day and $20 for half-day over their regular pay).
● Adding two additional workshop days for all educational technicians, starting in the year 2023-24.
The new contract can be viewed HERE.
The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 51 percent of the district’s students are white and 49 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.