“We were able to establish an enduring collaborative relationship around mutual goals,” said Path Academy teacher and WCSFT negotiating committee member Beth-Ann Brunet. “Together we look forward to promoting the success of our students and of our new school,” said Brunet, the former director of the English as a Second Language (ESOL), bilingual and world languages program for Windham Public Schools (WPS).
“It is important to recognize the hard work of the teachers at Path Academy Windham who are working with over-age, under-credited students,” said Christopher Leone, chief academic officer at OPP®.”This agreement with the federation signifies something important for Connecticut. It recognizes the hard work of the teachers and also demonstrates that a charter school and a teachers union can work together in this state. We are proud of this agreement, the collaboration, and what it means for our students, our staff, and the future.”
The collective bargaining agreement itself leads with Path Academy’s mission statement in a clear demonstration of the commitment of union members and administration to the school’s innovative academic model. Both parties acknowledge the school’s founding on principles of “collegiality and collaboration” and the role of its teachers in the “planning, development and growth of the education process.”
“This is the way all schools operated by charter management organizations should work,” said Windham High School teacher and coach Randall Prose. “A unionized workforce ensures best practices in education. Collaboration among local towns, school boards and teachers’ unions is the best way to serve all our kids,” said Prose, who serves as president of the Windham Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1577, which represents WPS’ educators.
“Path Academy Windham ensures that students’ needs are met to find success in college, career, and community,” said George Hernandez, chair of Path Academy Windham’s governing board. “Teachers play a pivotal role in supporting student success at Path Academy, and by ratifying a contract with the American Federation of Teachers, we’re ensuring that the needs of our teachers are met.”
The agreement covers the teachers at Path Academy Windham through June 30, 2017 and includes a two percent general wage increase for the 2015-16 school year. An additional 1.5 percent wage increase, based on meeting whole school performance measures, is also provided for. The parties also agreed to a “re-opener” during which salaries for the 2016-17 school year will be negotiated. Additional benefits include sick leave and the establishment of “just cause” protections for the teachers, who would otherwise not have the “tenure” rights of other public school teachers.
Path Academy’s governing board in April voluntarily recognized the free choice of the majority of its teachers to form a union and agreed to remain neutral during the organizing process. The State Board of Education (SBOE), which granted the school’s initial charter certificate, in May directed the council to recognize WCSFT as the exclusive collective bargaining representative for its classroom teachers.
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About AFT Connecticut
AFT Connecticut represents more than 29,000 professionals across the state, including 450 educators and school support personnel in Windham Public Schools. For more information, visit www.aftct.org or follow the labor federation on Twitter at @AFTCT and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aftct.
About Path Academy Windham & Our Piece of the Pie
Opened in August 2014, Path Academy Windham re-engages over-age, under-credited students in the Windham, Connecticut region by supporting them through mastery of the critical skills necessary for success in college, career and community. Path Academy was unanimously approved as a state charter school in June 2013 by Connecticut’s Board of Education and is managed by nonprofit Our Piece of the Pie®. For more information, visit www.PathAcademyWindham.org.
Our Piece of the Pie (OPP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping 14 to 24 year-old urban youth become economically independent adults. OPP’s unique model is centered on the personal and consistent relationship between each youth and a caring, committed adult staff member who helps youth overcome barriers, access support services, and achieve the goals of a high school diploma, postsecondary credential, and meaningful employment. Founded in 1975, OPP provided community- and high school-based programs to 1,198 young people in five Connecticut communities last year. For more information, visit www.OPP.org or follow OPP on Twitter @OPP_Helps_Youth and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OurPieceOfThePie.