WESTFORD — After over a year of negotiations, officials and a number of Westford’s educators have approved a new contract through June 30, 2026.
The new contract includes a number of increased cost of living adjustments for faculty, which includes full-time teaching staff and nursing staff. These adjustments range from 2% in the first year to up to 4.64% in the third year of the contract.
“With inflation, there was no way our members would entertain another one-year for 2%. We are extremely grateful that the town stated they want to bring us to average among our competing towns,” Westford Education Association President Kristine Jussaume told WestfordCAT in an email.
She added, “we know we are worth more than average, but the current budget does not support above-average pay.”
The contract includes increased longevity payments, where staff who work multiple consecutive years with Westford Public Schools receive additional pay based on their tenure. The contract also includes increased stipend payments and changes to substitute and teacher recommendation policies among others.
Other changes include parent-teacher conferences, which will now be held on two back-to-back early release days in December, rather than before Thanksgiving.
“I am very pleased that we were able to get a settled contract with our teachers. It was a very long process as there was a tremendous amount of data being analyzed, shared and considered by both sides,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christopher Chew told WestfordCAT in an email.
He added, “but we were able to reach a tentative agreement right at the end of the school year.
Negotiators voted to ratify the agreement on the first day of school, which Chew said was a “wonderfully positive way to get the year started.”
Unit E contract in mediation
Education Support Professionals, represented by Unit E, have begun their second year without a new contract.
According to Jussaume, the “sticking point,” is over hourly wages, with members currently making less than $25,000 per year.
“Unfortunately many Unit E members choose to leave the system over the summer due to inadequate wages,” she said.
She added, “we are still hopeful Westford will increase hourly wages so that we can attract and maintain the adequate number of Educational Support Professionals to uphold current student educational needs.”
According to Chew, negotiations remain in mediation since the spring and “have not progressed beyond that at this time.”