Please support the Holliston Public Schools on September 10, 2024

The Holliston Select Board has selected September 10, 2024 as the date for an override ballot question special town election.

On May 20, 2024 the Holliston School Committee and the Holliston Federation of Teachers negotiating teams agreed to a new three-year contract for 2024-2027, subject to the passage of an override.  The agreement was ratified (voted on by both parties) on May 23, 2024. This agreement is good for our schools, students, staff and community, but requires passage of an override to fund the contract.

The terms of the agreement include fair compensation for our teachers and extend student instructional time by 15 minutes each day for grades 3-12 and 10 minutes each day for grades K-2 starting in the 2025-2026 school year. This translates to 45 hours of increased instructional time annually at Miller, RAMS and the high school, and 30 hours of increased instructional time at Placentino. That means that total instructional time over a student’s K-12 education in Holliston will increase by 540 hours, which is more than a half a year of increased time over that period. We believe that this will be an enormous benefit for our students. Negotiating increased instructional time is relatively rare but one that we think is more important than ever as we still work to recover lost instructional time during COVID.

The agreement was reached after the May 13, 2024 Town Meeting, preventing its financial aspects to be incorporated into the budget or for an override request to be made at that time.  At the time of Town Meeting, even the outline of an agreement was not known.

The budget approved at the May 13, 2024 Town Meeting included $400,000 in cuts, resulting in 8 position cuts which ultimately resulted in one lost job as a direct result. An additional $750,000 was approved for one-time extraordinary expenses, mostly related to state mandated out-of-district special education costs.  This was merely a part of the overall funding of the School’s budgetary needs as circumstances demonstrated that the out-of-district costs should truly be one-time in nature which allows for the use of one-time funds. This is not a statement about any particular budget driver.

The School Committee is asking the Holliston community for an override to fund this new contract to compensate our teachers fairly, increase time on learning for our students, and to avoid additional layoffs.

Additionally, the agreement provides a process for potential bell schedule changes at the middle and high school. Lastly, while not a part of the contract but to accommodate the longer school day, the District will add additional buses to move from 3 bus runs to 2 bus runs which will allow us to have a later start time at Miller. This is something we have continued to hear concerns about from parents and wanted to address as the opportunity arose.

Other than the cost of additional buses, the override is almost entirely for teacher salaries. Its aim is to provide teacher compensation that is competitive with surrounding districts, while also addressing inflationary pressures and the extra burdens that have come with the job post Covid. Holliston competes for talent with many districts that might not seem like peers, but are close enough to draw from the same pool of applicants. It is a delicate balancing act and while we can’t afford to pay in-line with these wealthier towns, we also do not want to let the wage gap increase either.

Given the increased instructional time and other benefits of the contract, the cost of this override is fiscally prudent and a smart investment. These changes will positively impact student learning, which makes for a desirable town and strong property values. The cost of the override is $1.2 million (inclusive of additional funding by the Select Board for Town non-union personnel raises) or $201 per average household. The Assessor has provided additional information on the Town’s website about how you can calculate your own personal impact from this override.

There are a number of programs available through the Board of Assessors that provide relief to those with limited means or Veterans. Most recently, a new Means-Tested Senior Exemption (passed by Town Meeting May 2022 and signed into law by the Governor in May 2024) will be available beginning in FY25. For more information, visit the links to the town website below or contact Kevin Rudden at town hall. Ruddenke@holliston.k12.ma.us

This contract and override are good for students, good for teachers, good for HPS and ultimately good for Holliston. Please vote on September 10th! 

 For a more comprehensive discussion of the contract and override, please see details on the town website: https://www.townofholliston.us/home/news/special-town-meeting-information.

Joe Paru

1 Comments

  1. Susan Haley on June 24, 2024 at 10:32 am

    I’m curious – What are “the extra burdens that have come with the job post Covid”?

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