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Letter: MHS Teacher—Dolan Wrong About Teacher Pay

Melrose High School biology teacher Kerri Scott takes on Mayor Rob Dolan's statements about teacher pay in Melrose.

To the editor:

Shock. Disappoinment. Betrayal.

These are some of the emotions I felt as I read .

I was shocked to learn that the average teacher will be receiving a 5-7 percent salary increase. I will only be receiving a 1 percent cost of living adjustment next year—as part of the agreement the MEA (Melrose Education Association) made with the city two years ago—and wonder how the average teacher managed to receive more than our bargained increase.

After taking a wage freeze, which amounted to a pay cut for most, the MEA received the previously negotiated 2 percent COLA this year and 1 percent next year. Teachers who have not reached the 11th year base salary are climbing the steps of delayed compensation. Some teachers will receive compensation for their own investment in graduate course-work.

I was disappointed to read that Mayor Dolan does not understand how the teacher contract works. His mistaken averaging may lead people to think teachers received large raises this year, causing public hostility towards any increases in the future. This misunderstanding also seems inconsistent with his other press conference remarks regarding teacher pay: "I would argue that although we’re among the lowest, we’re making a heck of a good run at trying to be better."

I felt betrayed when I read Mayor Dolan’s statements about health insurance premiums. The MEA agreed to enter the GIC to save the city an initial $1.2 million compared to the previous—more expensive—insurance plan. The city’s savings continue annually, while MEA members have seen their actual health care costs increase over the last four years.

I ask the community to recognize Mayor Dolan’s lack of attention to detail. The giveback and health insurance concessions were major sacrifices made by all public employees to help maintain important city services.

Kerri Scott
BiologyTeacher

Dave Gray June 22, 2012 at 10:29 AM
I give Ms. Scott a lot of credit for being willing to publicly contradict the Mayor. She is correct, both about the teacher's salaries and about GIC, and by doing so, she has put herself right in the firing line. The constant spinning coming out of City Hall is beginning to get really tiresome. The morale of City employees is terrible, and gets worse with every distortion that comes out of City Hall.
Lory Hough June 22, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Dan Dan the Patch Man: Theme issue that explores teaching in the city? Pay, retention, etc?
Ed E June 22, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I dare to say that any raise should be appreciated no matter it's percentage. Many are not even able to gain employment, never mind a raise.
Lisa Lewis June 22, 2012 at 04:01 PM
I agree Ms. Scott deserves a lot of credit for coming forward. I do not know who is right (nor do I share Mr. Gray's negative view of City Hall). However I believe we cannot improve our school culture and provide a welcoming and enriching atmosphere for our teachers without open, transparent discourse. Ms. Scott - thank you for taking a step in that direction. Lory - good call on the theme issue, would be great to see. Dann, loving the reporting on the schools, and I'm hoping more is coming!
John Collins June 22, 2012 at 04:39 PM
If the M E A bargained in good faith for the agreement .they most likely did so on the premiss that long term employees should be compensated at a higher rate.that there wouldbe no layoffs or other concessions.I don't know if this is what happened.Maybe you should run for the wage commitee,I would like to know if Mayor Dolan is unaware or if he just has a good bargaining team
Dave Gray June 22, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Lisa, you know, I'm not negative by nature, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to feel anything but negative when discussing the schools. I'm worried that Melrose is getting a reputation as somewhere you don't want your kids to go to school. That will translate into fewer newcomers buying houses here, which will subsequently negatively affect our real estate values and our ability to generate tax revenue. I keep hearing the "moving forward" mantra, but I see no forward movement at all.The same mistakes seem to keep getting made over and over again. It's very disappointing. Ed, I'm sure Ms. Scott appreciates the 1% COLA she'll' get this year. She probably would have appreciated the 5-7% the Mayor said she'd be getting a lot more, don't you think? For the life of me I can't understand the disconnect, and it's becoming something of a pattern. It wasn't long ago that the Mayor insinuated that the Police were "manipulating", or at the least, "overusing" overtime. He spouted a bunch of numbers that time, too. Unfortunately for him he was wrong, as an independent audit and separate study showed. I have supported the Mayor in the past on other issues - using the Mt. Hood enterprise fund to fund the athletic fields, for example - but not this time. I just call them as I see them.
Daniel DeMaina (Editor) June 25, 2012 at 07:37 PM
My apologies for not replying to these comments earlier, folks. I'd also like to give Ms. Scott credit for speaking up—it's the only way to advance the discussion and get as close as possible to the truth, and it's important for people in the community to hear from everyone involved. Lory: The theme issue that explores teaching in the city? Well, we could go in a lot of directions there—educational-style (co-teaching, for example), management structure (department heads), district-wide or school-specific initiatives, etc. I'm guessing that all plays a part in creating the atmosphere that Melrose teachers work in every day. Salaries are certainly a part of that, of course, as Ms. Scott talks about in her letter, which is why I reported on it earlier this month and why I asked the mayor about it in the press conference. We all know that Melrose's average teacher salary is low compared to most of its neighbors. Melrose Schools Business Manager Greg Zammuto is compiling information for me regarding the average 5-7 percent teacher pay increase this past year that Dolan cited during our interview—which I'm assuming is a combination of any "step" increases, longevity increases, COLA increases and educational increases (the last of which is obtained by teachers getting master's degrees and so forth). We'll see. Zammuto is also compiling info on teacher retention for me, which I'll report back once I have it and hopefully can talk to the MEA for comment.

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