OPINION: Hingham Educators Strive for a Fair Contract to Benefit Our Community

Supporters of Hingham Teachers and Paraeducators gather at a rally in Downtown Hingham as they negotiate a new contract. Photo by Josh Ross.

March 21, 2024 written by the HEA unified bargaining team

As educators in the Hingham Public Schools, we hold a special place in the heart of this community. We are not just educators; we are neighbors, friends, and fellow community members.

We want to share our perspective on the ongoing contract negotiations that directly affect the high-quality public education that Hingham is known for. On March 14, the Hingham Education Association (HEA) brought forth a proposal designed to resolve the contract issues for our teachers (Unit A), our paraeducators (Unit B) and our administrative assistants (Unit D).

Our proposal represents more than just numbers and percentages; it is about ensuring that every student in Hingham receives the education they deserve while acknowledging the critical role of educators in this process. Here is what is contained in our proposal:

1. A Living Wage for Those Who Support Our Students: Our proposal includes a necessary increase in paraeducator salaries. The current rates ($19,000 to $25,000 per year) do not reflect the cost of living in Massachusetts, nor do they recognize the vital role these professionals play in our educational system. We’re advocating for a minimum salary of $30,000 in Year 1 and a minimum of $45,000 in Year 2 – ensuring that no paraeducator lives in poverty. This isn’t a luxury – until we raise paraeducator pay, the needs of students, including legally mandated services, will go unserviced as we are unable to hire paraeducators at the current poverty wages.

2. Supportive Learning Environment For All Students: We’re proposing transparent limits on class sizes and adequate staffing to support high-needs students. Education is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Smaller class sizes and educator input on class make up mean more personalized attention and a better learning environment for every child.

3. Safety as a Priority: Our proposal ensures that all paraeducators receive adequate CPR and safety training. The safety of our students is a top priority.

4. Keeping Up with the Cost of Living: Inflation has been more than 18% over the last three years. We’ve proposed a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of 18% spread over four years for our professional educators (Unit A). This is in response to the significant inflation and rising housing and healthcare costs we’ve all experienced. It’s essential to retain quality educators in Hingham.

5. Modern Parental Leave Policy: Our educators deserve a modern parental leave policy that reflects the values of our community. Recognizing the importance of supporting educators as they welcome new family members, we proposed 60 days of paid parental leave including a guaranteed 40 days regardless of how much sick time you might have.

6. Equal Pay for Administrative Assistants: We’re seeking an equitable pay scale for administrative assistants, who play a crucial role in the smooth operation of our schools. These crucial professionals serve as the face of our schools to the public and every day ensure our students are safe– they too deserve to make a living wage, a minimum of $45,000 a year.

7. Health Insurance We Can Afford: Hingham educators on family health insurance spend more than $6,000 more per year than the average educator in surrounding towns. We propose better employer contributions to our health insurance. Currently the town of Hingham contributes far less than surrounding towns and comparable towns. In fact, currently Hingham contributes the minimum amount they are required to by law. The rising cost of healthcare should not be a barrier to anyone dedicating their life to education.

The HEA’s proposal represents a substantial $5 million savings in the school budget between 2023-2026 compared to our last proposal, demonstrating our commitment to fiscal responsibility while maintaining our commitment to the supports our students need.

We urge the Hingham School Committee to view this proposal not as a list of demands, but as a blueprint for maintaining and enhancing the high-quality of public education that Hingham is known for. Our goal is straightforward: to settle these contracts in a manner that best benefits our Hingham educators, our students, and our community.

Rejecting this proposal, or refusing to negotiate in good faith, would send a disheartening message to all of us who have dedicated our lives to educating Hingham’s students. It would suggest that the voices of those most intimately involved in the educational process – the educators – are being overlooked. We, as educators, are fully committed to our students and this community.
We hope for a resolution that allows us to continue doing our best work: educating, inspiring, and caring for the future leaders of Hingham and beyond.

The educators, paraeducators, and administrative assistants of the Hingham
Education Association

2 thoughts on “OPINION: Hingham Educators Strive for a Fair Contract to Benefit Our Community”

  1. After years of failing to provide HPS with the resources necessary to meet its most basic obligations, accepting the HEA’s latest proposal would certainly be a good start to righting the ship. We simply cannot continue to expect our children’s educators to care more about our children’s education than we do. It’s time to release emergency funds and/or pass an override.

  2. As a member of the Hingham community, parent of grown children who greatly benefited from their education in this great town, and retired teacher, who enjoyed the 38 years I spent in the classrooms here, I strongly support these proposals.
    David McCullough, whose grandchildren attended the Hingham public schools, addressed the teachers at our opening convocation one year. I was there to hear him say, “Teachers have the MOST important job, not only in Hingham or Massachusetts, but in the WORLD!”


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