Westfield teachers stuck in contract dispute with officials - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Westfield teachers stuck in contract dispute with officials

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WESTFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

An on going contract dispute between Westfield Public School teachers and the school district is at an impasse. The teachers want more money, and the city said they can't give them everything they want.

Now because the two can't seem to settle on an appropriate number for a raise, they will go into mediation with the state in hopes of settling on a deal everyone can agree on.

On Wednesday night, Nearly hundreds of teachers from the Westfield Public School system bound together for what they said was a sign of support for one another during contract negotiations with the school district.

Lori Hovey is the president of the Westfield teachers' union. She said the teachers are asking for one thing.

"We want fair and equitable compensation for the jobs that all three units that I represent work for," said Hovey.

She also added Westfield teachers are the lowest paid in Western Mass, with entry level payment of $36,000 and a highest rate of $73,000.

The teachers are asking for a three percent raise for the first, second and third terms of their contracts. That would bring a total of a 9 percent increase over their three year contract.

But the district said they can only afford a .5 percent increase for the first term, 1 percent for the second and a 1.5 percent increase for the third, bringing the teachers to a three percent increase over the three years.
   
"I love teaching. I love the kids. I just move to a new school because I love growing up with the kids," said Westfield teacher, Lisa Stycharz.

She and her fellow teachers said it's the mutual love for their job that has them coming in early, staying late and even spending their own money on school supplies.

"A lot of people think we get paid for that when we don't. We volunteer our time," said Hovey.

"People say you do a good job, but when my bills come in we're asking to have the same kind of increases that increases come to us," said Westfield teacher, Linda Kibe. 

Parents like Elaine Cristina said they think the teachers should get back what they have given.

"I think anytime they're in the classroom they should be paid. They're away from their own families, their own children, to take care of my child and they should be paid for that," said Cristina.

The Westfield School District said they've invested nearly $17 million into education in the city.

A date for the mediation meeting has not yet been set.

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