BOSTON – Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers Union have reached a tentative agreement on a contract that would build a special education and inclusion system in Boston schools.
“For far too long in Boston, students with disabilities and their families have faced a system that neither recognizes nor delivers what every child deserves,” said Mayor Michelle Wu in response to the agreement.
Ain May found that many students were being underserved in the school district. The school district reached out with the state’s Department of Secondary and Elementary Education to improve Boston schools.
“This is a new day for Boston,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Jeri Robinson. “This is a long time in coming. Dealing with the DESE and the threat of receivership made it a very serious thing about the quality of education that Boston children long deserve.”
The contract includes a plan to overhaul the district’s special education with reduced class sizes, increased collaboration between general and special education teachers. and funding for more positions and supports needed to create inclusive classrooms. One key component of the agreement is funding an inclusion education liaison position to implement the plan.
“As educators, the needs of our students are our number one priority, and this agreement lays the foundation to achieve what we call ‘inclusion done right’ for the benefit of all students within the Boston Public Schools,” said BTU President Jessica Tang. “It is our fundamental belief that – when fully supported and staffed – all students benefit from classrooms that are inclusive and equitable.”
Outgoing Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius said the agreement, “represents a significant step forward in our work to ensure students with disabilities are served in the least restrictive learning environments.”
The agreement also includes making sure students have necessary academic supports, additional staff training on inclusion policies and practices, time for collaborative planning and transparency in facilities work. School staff will also receive parental leave and a 2.5% annual wage increase over the next three years.
“This contract provides complete access to a continuum of services across our schools that will meet their individualized and special needs and improve their academic and social-emotional outcomes,” said Acting Superintendent Drew Echelson.
The Boston School Committee will vote on the agreement once the contract has been ratified by the BTU. The first day of school is Sept. 8.