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The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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DCPS teachers frustrated by lack of contract

Teachers across the district have been operating without an official contract since September 30.  

In November of 2022, a contract was established, but instead of extending this contract, the DCPS Central Office stated that they would revisit the contract later and implement a new order by September 30, 2023. 

The main difference in contract negotiations this year is the number of members on the contract negotiations team, which has tripled, with a minimum of two professionals per subject from elementary to high school. The purpose is to bring awareness to more issues system-wide while leaving no department in the dark, resulting in more necessary negotiations. 

In April 2023, the Washington Teachers Union began to examine their contract and discuss what they wanted to modify for the following year. They created ground rules for their future deal which was sent to the Chancellor and his team at DCPS Central Office in May 2023. Sending the ground rules was supposed to begin the process of negotiations, yet, the Teachers Union did not receive any communication until July.

In July, there was discussion about what each party wanted, but it occurred at a very slow rate. While the Teachers Union supplied all information regarding their needs and wants, the Chancellor has yet to surpass the initial step of ground rules. 

Rebecca Bradshaw-Smith, Jackson-Reed’s Washington Teachers Union Building Representative, explained, “We don’t need an exaggerated conversation on ground rules, ground rules are only a basic first step.” 

No progress was made and communication between the Central Office and The Teacher’s Union decreased, September 30 came and passed, and DCPS teachers were officially out of compliance with their contracts. 

The tension between the negotiations team and the Central Office is nothing new. “We have always had to pull teeth,” Bradshaw-Smith explained, “they want us to have the basics, only bare bones.”

The issue of negotiations turns into a larger issue with school-wide funding. With the Central Office not complying and properly providing resources the school system needs, the strength of school resources that students need weakens. “They always say, you just want more money. No, we don’t, we want facilities that work, and we want an environment that can support all students, in every way,” Bradshaw-Smith said. 

A main component of contracts is funds, though. When staff members are given back pay it is derived from the current year’s budget, so the economic aspects of a contract need to be known to ensure correct spending. “Our pins say fund schools now, because our time is now, at the end of this calendar year the next fiscal year budget will be made, but if the budget is unknown, funding will be uncontrollable as well,” Nathan Sparks, environmental science teacher, and union member stated. 

While teachers alike are frustrated and confused as to why a basic necessity isn’t being supplied, they are still working without their needs being fulfilled. “Teachers are still coming to work and doing their job, teaching and making sure that kids are learning, which I truly appreciate,” Principal Brown said.

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About the Contributor
Addison Childre
Addison Childre, Director of New Staff
Addison is the other half of the amazing, glorious, jaw dropping, Spreaditors. The beacon always, and I mean always, comes first, but when she is not slaving away, trying to make the spread as beautiful as possible, she can be spotted playing a bit too much lacrosse or going on a bit too long hikes—it clears her head or whatever. If you can’t reach her then don't be alarmed. To have her actually respond to text is mind boggling—I guess you're just special if so. 
  • 2020-21: Junior Editor
  • 2021-22: Style Editor
  • 2022-23: Spread Editor
  • 2023-24: Director of New Staff
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