Teachers accept contract; CAPE could dissolveBy Mike Berger
Monday’s School Committee meeting provided two major news items: the Canton Teachers Association formally accepted a three-year contract offer from the School Committee, and the Canton Alliance for Public Education (CAPE), which provides grants to support innovative teaching practices and programs, announced it would dissolve at this time next year unless the group can find a substantial number of new parent volunteers.
CAPE President Cam Reese said the organization’s upcoming meeting in September may very well determine the future of the group, which recently awarded more than $20,000 in grants to various education enrichment projects and has awarded 86 grants totaling $181,000 since 2004.
School Committee member Jill Stevens, who has chaired one of CAPE’s most popular events, the annual spelling bee, best summed up the value of the organization. “Losing CAPE would be a terrible thing,” she said. “If you look at the enrichment programs in the schools, those new and innovative programs, chances are CAPE has had a big part in it.”
Two of the grants that CAPE awarded this year were for a robotics program at the middle school and a reading program for autistic students at the three elementary schools.
Reese said the existing CAPE membership consists of parents whose students are in the upper grades or graduating, and the group is desperately in need of parents of younger children. If no further interest is shown in the program, Reese said CAPE would go through one more round of grant applications before dissolving at the end of the 2013 school year.
More information on joining CAPE can be found on the community page of the Canton Public Schools’ website. Also, a notice will be sent out from the superintendent’s office and another membership drive will be done at the beginning of the next school year.
Earlier in the meeting, Selectmen Chairman Bob Burr joined School Committee members to announce the town’s support of the new three-year contract with the CTA.
At this time last year, the room where the School Committee meets was packed with CTA members who were unhappy about the lack of progress on a new contract. After last summer the CTA agreed to a one-year contract with no raises, as well as the establishment of a steps-and-lanes subcommittee to study the issue of automatic salary escalators.
The subcommittee not only involved members of the CTA, including President Pat Phelan, but also representatives of the Mass. Teachers Association and Finance Committee Chairman Alan Hines. School Committee Chairman John Bonnanzio, who worked on this issue extensively, said after the meeting that the new contract, particularly the revisions to the system of steps and lanes, was a “win-win for everyone.”
CTA members will first receive a 2 percent, across-the-board pay raise, but it comes with a significant restructuring of both steps and lanes — a system that Bonnanzio described as fairer for all teachers. He said the new structure gives teachers more money, especially the senior teachers, and will save the town $200,000 annually.
Bonnanzio praised the work of Hines, a professional actuary, along with the cooperative approach of the CTA and MTA in getting the contract worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.
Also working extensively in negotiations was School Committee member Reuki Schutt, who asked the committee to support the contract prior to the formal vote. She said the contract was a “very positive step in the right direction.”
The new contract will go into effect on September 1, 2012, and end on August 31, 2015. A copy of the contract will be posted on the school website after it is signed.
In other news, committee members want more time to consider Performing Arts Coordinator Sarah Collmer’s proposed changes in the after-school music program for the upcoming school year. The program has grown to include 11 teachers and 70 students. Some of the changes include a registration fee of $25 and $10 for each additional sibling; a small increase in the lesson rate of $20 per 30-minute session, and either payment on a monthly or semester basis with a 5 percent discount for those paying early.
Collmer said the changes are necessary for a more efficient program and to develop more of a commitment from students and families. Bonnanazio said the committee would want to assess the impacts to private music instructors, as well as the impact on the school business office, which would issue checks to the music teachers rather than parents paying the teacher directly each week.
Short URL: http://www.thecantoncitizen.com/?p=14461