Letter to the Editor: Need to Pay Competitively to Keep Quality Educators in Bedford

Submitted by Holly Munsie

Imagine you are running a business. Your strategic positioning is a high-quality product that commands premium pricing. You used to pay above-average salaries, but you now pay below average, and your staff turnover has increased significantly. You now have a choice – increase salaries or accept that your quality will decline. 

This imaginary business is the Bedford Public Schools. We have a strong school system that attracts families to our town and allows our homes to sell at a premium. The quality of our schools is at risk because we cannot continue to attract and retain top educators with our current below-average salaries. You would need to increase our starting teacher salary 6.7 percent and the highest step teacher salary 11 percent to match the average of neighboring towns today. 

In addition, high inflation has been decreasing the purchasing power of teacher salaries. Since September 2020, consumer prices increased 20 percent while Bedford teacher salaries increased only 7 percent. In comparison, private industry wages and salaries in the Boston metro area increased 17.5 percent since March 2020. 

The Bedford School Committee recently issued a statement with their commitment to “attract and retain a high-quality educator workforce.” In order to deliver on that commitment, I ask the School Committee for a contract that:

  • Is competitive with the salaries of surrounding towns
  • Includes annual increases competitive with the surrounding towns and accounts for higher inflation across all three years of the contract
  • Does not rely on reducing the teacher staff or cutting the arts, music or athletics to pay for these increases

I understand this contract will cost Bedford more. In a time of high inflation impacting all areas of our school and town budget, it is unlikely that we can find cuts to pay for these increases. If necessary, I would ask the town to bring the request for additional funding to the citizens to vote on. When faced with similar choices in the past, such as expanding Davis and Lane to avoid large class sizes, we have always voted in favor of spending to retain the quality of the Bedford Public Schools education. Quality education for our children is a necessity and a priority.

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The opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the writer, not The Bedford Citizen.

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Heather Thacore
June 10, 2024 6:59 am

To respond to Steven’s comment, yes that information is known. They would rank (after the requested increases) back in the middle of the pack of surrounding towns, where we have historically been. The union has all of the current averages from I believe 15 surrounding or similar sized towns to reference. Please take a look at the LARGE numbers of teachers and nearly all TAs leaving this year. It’s unprecedented how many teachers we are losing and will continue to lose if we don’t address this now.

Steven Wright
June 7, 2024 5:08 pm

How do we know where these rates would rank after what the schools offered? Is t this data the current structure?

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