By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The Lynnfield Teachers Association (LTA) is concerned about the increasing workloads placed on educators as well as retaining high quality staff members.
LTA President Alexandria Cellucci expressed the teachers’ union’s concerns in a letter sent to Superintendent Kristen Vogel and the School Committee in late October that was obtained by the Villager. She recalled that the school board approved raises for Vogel, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Tom Geary and Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Kevin Cyr in late September.
“As we all know, there have been recent cuts in direct student facing positions including teachers, interventionists and tutors over the past few years while at the same time, teachers have been tasked with taking on many new initiatives to support the rigorous academic and social-emotional programs that serve all of our students,” stated Cellucci.
Cellucci said the School Department’s budget cuts have placed more demands on teachers, which has resulted in educators juggling multiple responsibilities.
“Classroom educators are being tasked with planning and delivering lessons for targeted math and English language arts interventions, outside of planning for main lessons and curriculum, at both the elementary and middle schools,” Cellucci stated. “New curricula, such as Wit & Wisdom, require considerable planning time to deliver instruction with fidelity. Given the notice at the end of the school year, teachers at the middle school had to plan for their new Wit & Wisdom curriculum this summer although formal training on implementation will not occur until November. Additional data meetings to analyze data both at the elementary and middle schools are also occupying time for planning lessons, assessing students and routine communication with families.”
Cellucci wrote that the “loss of teaching positions has also meant that teaching loads and class sizes have increased while teachers at the high school incorporate specific accommodations from DCAP (district curriculum accommodation plan) into their teaching.”
“Educators continue to adjust their practices to deliver quality instruction while managing more frequent and challenging behaviors that have surfaced over the past four years across all grade levels in our district,” Cellucci wrote.
Cellucci stated that the LTA “appreciates the School Committee’s recent recognition and actions to retain the institutional knowledge of our administrators and the benefits that come with their experience.”
“The demand for qualified teachers, paraprofessionals and other support staff continues to grow across many districts in the commonwealth while enrollment in teacher education programs is declining,” Cellucci stated. “Here in Lynnfield, we have also lost quality educators to other districts and faced staffing challenges at the onset of this school year as well. The LTA believes that the district must develop a plan — with input from the union — to attract and retain skilled educators as well so we can continue to provide all students with a well-rounded, high-quality education. We have always had a positive and productive relationship with the superintendent and School Committee, and we are eager to continue that. We look forward to hearing from you.”
Cellucci elaborated on the LTA’s concerns in an interview with the Villager.
“I welcome having the superintendent and the School Committee work collaboratively with us,” said Cellucci. “That really is our goal. Like other districts, we are feeling the pinch of staffing shortages. When we have staffing shortages, it affects us and it affects our students. We want to be addressing that in a strategic way with the administration and the School Committee. This is not just about wages. It’s about the idea of being able to attract and retain our staff. We have to look at a lot of pieces of the puzzle. Workload is another piece and having our educators feel supported and respected is another piece as well. Creating a positive workplace culture has a lot of components to it, and that is what we are looking to work on and address with the School Committee and the superintendent.”
Superintendent Vogel responded to the LTA’s concerns in a statement sent to the Villager.
“We are grateful for the collaborative and collegial relationship that we have with the Lynnfield Teachers Association,” said Vogel. “We continually work together to support our staff and ensure their success. Lynnfield, as a community, has always prioritized an excellent school system by providing our students and educators with updated facilities and resources to provide exceptional teaching and learning. As a result, Lynnfield will continue to be a place where educators will want to work. We will continue to collaborate with our teachers’ union on attracting and recruiting highly qualified staff.”