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State education leaders address BPS backpay issue, question adding terms to receivership deal


Following teacher’s outcry over not receiving millions in backpay in a timely fashion, state education officials chimed in on BPS’s continued issues at this week’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“I’m a little confused,” said Commissioner of Schools Jeff Riley. “We had the mayor and the union president come in lockstep three different times to this committee prior, telling us that they have things under control. And now the teachers aren’t getting paid.”

The issue in question is a prolonged delay in getting backpay stalled by issues at BPS’s Office of Human Capital. The Boston Teachers Union president and groups of teachers came forward at last week’s Boston School Committee meeting, reporting that thousands of teachers have not received backpay they were promised in the union contract signed last fall, among other stalled payments.

“Obviously, the school department has to get some data going, but ultimately the city are the ones who pay the teachers,” Riley continued. “I would just ask that they do whatever they can to get these teachers paid in a timely manner.”

A BPS spokesperson said they’ve taken “all necessary actions” and the process of distributing retro pay is “well underway,” in a statement following the committee meeting.

“At the direction of Superintendent Mary Skipper, BPS is actively reviewing our processes to ensure similar delays do not occur again and examining how to evolve our Human Capital processes and systems moving forward to make things more efficient,” the BPS statement said.

Teachers reported the district has now indicated the payments should be distributed by mid-February.

Board Chair Katherine Craven asked if the contract with BPS could be amended to “include” the issue. The contract in question is an agreement between the state and BPS on a set of goals the district must meet to avoid a state receivership.

“I think we’re gonna have to check with our counsel,” Riley replied.

The board may further address the issue in BPS discussions at upcoming meetings in February and March, Riley said.


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