Teaching Profession

Boston District and Union Agree on Adding ‘Pilot Schools’

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — February 21, 2006 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

City and school leaders in Boston reached an agreement with the Boston Teachers’ Union last week to expand the district’s system of small, autonomous schools, ending a 2-year-old standoff that had stalled the growth of the experimental program.

Under the agreement, which must be approved by the school board, the city would open at least seven new “pilot schools” over the next three years, including one that would be governed by the union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. The 59,000-student district opened the first of its 19 pilot schools in 1994, through a partnership with the BTU. The schools, which are the district’s answer to charter schools, enroll various K-12 grade levels.

“This new agreement on pilot schools will offer our students more choice and continue to provide them with a world-class education,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement announcing the agreement Feb. 15.

Several of the district’s 145 schools had already petitioned before the standoff to become pilot schools.

In 2003, union officials refused to endorse a plan to add more schools to the program, citing inconsistent policies for limiting teachers’ unpaid overtime and a need to extend some of the same administrative liberties—over school hours, hiring, and budgets—to other district schools.

The agreement would place a cap on the unpaid hours—at about 100 per school year—and require the district or the schools to pay additional hourly wages to teachers who worked beyond those hours.

“In the past, some pilot school teachers had to work more than 300 hours without pay,” BTU President Richard Stutman said in a statement. “This agreement resolves teachers’ concerns and paves the way for expanding this important education option for parents, students, and educators.”

Supporters of the schools argue that teachers choose to work at them and understand the extra hours that may be needed for planning and professional development. Those teachers also benefit from greater collaboration with their peers, additional support for instruction, and greater job satisfaction, a recent study found.

Superintendent Thomas W. Payzant has pushed for adding more pilot schools, saying they would allow the district to enhance one of its core improvement initiatives.

“Consistent with our commitment to provide a whole system of quality schools for all children, these additional pilot schools will increase the range of Boston Public Schools choices for Boston families,” he said in a statement.

Decisionmaking Expanded

Mr. Payzant and Mr. Stutman participated in a panel discussion last month on the effects of the pilot schools. The discussion was timed to the release of a report that found them to be more effective than other public schools in the city at raising student achievement. (“Boston’s Small ‘Pilot’ Schools Found to Outperform Others,” Jan. 25, 2006.)

The study by the Center for Collaborative Education, a Boston-based advocacy organization that promotes small schools and supports the pilot school project, found that students in the network outperformed their peers across the district on multiple measures of performance and engagement.

Under the agreement, Mr. Stutman’s request for additional decisionmaking powers at other district schools would also be met. So-called “discovery schools” would be “granted some autonomy from district and union regulations in order to pursue particular innovative strategies,” a summary of the agreement says.

The pilot school issue had been a sticking point in contract negotiations between the district and the union. Those negotiations continued last week. The new agreement would be incorporated into the three-year contract that is set to begin in September.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2006 edition of Education Week as Boston District and Union Agree on Adding ‘Pilot Schools’

Events

English-Language Learners Webinar The Science of Reading and Multilingual Learners: What Educators Need to Know
Join experts in reading science and multilingual literacy to discuss what the latest research means for multilingual learners in classrooms adopting a science of reading-based approach.
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession How Many Teachers Are Retiring or Quitting? Not as Many as You Might Think
An EdWeek Research Center survey found that teacher resignations in the year leading up to August 2022 were only slightly above 2019.
2 min read
Teaching Profession Opinion How I'm Putting the Joy Back in Teaching This Year
Here are three steps I’m taking to bring back the joy—for my students and for myself.
Domonique Dickson
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration of people floating in space around a bright central core
iStock/Getty Images
Teaching Profession Opinion Why I Left Teaching (Spoiler: It Wasn't the Students)
A public school teacher explains how three troubling trends drove him out of the profession this year.
Paul Veracka
5 min read
Illustration of exit doors leading out of a school hallway
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Teaching Profession Black Teachers, Pay Incentives, and Evaluation Systems: What New Research Shows
Black teachers in D.C. respond differently than their peers to job-evaluation pressures—and are less likely to opt into a bonus system.
7 min read
Rear view of a Black female teacher in front of class teaching students - wearing face masks
E+/Getty