Help Guide

Massachusetts Public School Teacher Collective Bargaining Agreements

 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction. 2

Disclaimer: 2

Start 2

List 3

Screen View.. 3

PDF File. 4

Accessible File. 4

Detailed Information About District and Contract. 5

Select Another Agreement or Begin a Search. 5

Search. 6

Search by Keyword. 7

Search by District and Document Characteristics. 7

Search by Numeric Ranges. 7

Results. 8

Review Agreements from the Results Screen. 8

Review Keywords in Agreements. 8

Start a New Search or Revise Your Search Terms. 9

Advanced Keyword Searches. 10

Proximity Searching. 10

Wildcard Searching. 12

Word Relationships Searching. 14

Experiment, Experiment. 14

More Information About Search Fields. 15

 


Introduction

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has compiled this database of teacher collective bargaining agreements under the authority of Mass. General Laws c15, § 55A, as amended in 2008:

 

Each school district, including regional school districts and charter schools, shall annually file with the office [of school and district accountability within the department], on or before October 1, a copy of its current personnel contracts and collective bargaining agreements in a form and manner prescribed by the commissioner.

 

We welcome the public to use this database as a resource. If you have feedback for us about this database, please email contractfeedback@doe.mass.edu.

Disclaimer:

The documents herein are provided for informational purposes only. They are derived from documents that school districts have submitted to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and may differ from the current collective bargaining agreements in format and in substance. To obtain an up-to-date and complete copy of any particular agreement, please contact the school district or collective bargaining agent.  

 

 

Start

From the homepage, select “click to enter” to enter the database.  You will automatically be directed to the List tab.

 

screen shot of the opening page

 

List

 

At the top of the page you will see four navigation tabs for accessing information in the database. You are currently in the List mode so that tab is dark blue.  Use List to retrieve a specific district’s teacher bargaining agreement by clicking on the district’s name.  (Tip: to go directly to a district on the list, use [Ctrl] F to open your browser’s search field and start typing in the district name.) List allows you to look at a district’s agreement in three forms: screen view, pdf file, and accessible file.

 

 

 

 

Screen View

The district’s agreement initially opens in screen view. In this view the agreement has no page numbers because this is the file used for text searching. Use your scroll bar, Page Up/Page Down, or the up and down arrows to move around in the document. Use [Ctrl] Home to get back to the top and find the navigation tabs.

 

screen shot of a district page; agreement document is open on the screen

 


PDF File

Each agreement is available as a pdf file that can be downloaded or printed. Click on the pdf icon to open a file that you can print or save to your computer. The pdf file is ideal for using the table of contents to find specific sections on your screen. To return to the list from the pdf file, use your browser’s back button.

 

screen shot of pdf icon

 

 

 Accessible File

Each agreement can be opened as an accessible file compatible with keyboarding and speech recognition software. Click on the accessibility icon to open this file. The document has a different appearance but the same text. As with the pdf file, use your browser’s back button to return to the list from the accessible file.

 

screen shot of accessibility icon

screen shot of accessible district agreement file

Detailed Information About District and Contract

On the screen view, click on “Show detailed information about district and contract” to open a table, part of which is shown below. To return to the previous screen, click on “Hide detailed information.”

 

 

 

 

 

Select Another Agreement or Begin a Search

Use [Ctrl] Home to get back to the top of the page. Click on the List tab and choose another district, or click on the Search tab.

 

 

 

 

 


Search

To start searching, click on the Search navigation tab at the top of the page. If you don’t see the tabs, use [Ctrl] Home to get back to the top.

 

 

You can search the database in two different ways—by keywords or by district and document characteristics. If you search on a keyword, your results will include all district agreements that contain the word or phrase. If you select characteristics of districts and documents your results will include only agreements that match those criteria. By putting the two kinds of searches together, you can look for a keyword in a specific group of district agreements. For example, you can search for the keyword “sick leave” in agreements of districts with less than 2,000 students.

 

For detailed explanations of each field, see the table at the end of this guide.

 

Search Screen

screen shot of Search screen

 

Search by Keyword

Enter a word or phrase in the Keyword search field, and click on the search button at the top or bottom of the page. When you click on the search button after entering a keyword, your search results will include every district agreement in the Commonwealth that contains that word or phrase. The example shown—“sick leave”—returns every agreement in the database.

 

 

 

Search Results explains how to work in the screens that come up after you click the Search button.

Advanced Keyword Searches explains more powerful ways to use keyword searching.  

 

Search by District and Document Characteristics

To define a narrower group of agreements for your search, you can use any of the characteristics fields in the search table. This can be a powerful tool for finding relevant district comparisons from around the state.

 

Quick tips about using each search field are shown on the right of the screen. You can find detailed explanations of each field in a table at the end of this Guide. Specifying many criteria is likely to result in no matches. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than four fields.

 

Search Results explains how to work in the screens that come up after you click the Search button.

 

Search by Numeric Ranges

Three fields use numeric ranges—Number of Schools, Enrollment, and Percent Low Income Students. Screen tips provide directions on how to specify a number search. Several examples are provided in the table below. Note that you do not use the % sign in the field Percent Low Income Students.

 

To search for districts with:

enter

10 – 14 schools

10 to 14

10 or more schools

>9

less than 10 schools

<10

20-40%  low income students

20 to 40

 

 

 


Results

When you submit your search, the Results screen appears, and the Results navigation tab is dark blue. District agreements that matched your search are listed alphabetically, as well as the number of matches, the search you specified, and a few characteristics of the districts.  

 

 

Review Agreements from the Results Screen

Click on a district name; the screen that opens looks very similar to the screen in ‘List’. (See List for an explanation of the icons and link in the upper left of the screen.) To look through the agreement in screen view, use the scroll bar, Page Up/Page Down or the up/down arrows. Use [Ctrl] Home to return to the top of the page and the navigation tabs.

 

To return to your results list and open another agreement, click on the Results tab.

Review Keywords in Agreements

If you searched on a keyword, click on the link at the top of the agreement—‘Locate first search result in document’—to go to the first hit (occurrence) of the keyword. To find every hit on the keyword, keep clicking on the last highlighted word on the screen.

 

 

screen shot of contract language

 

Start a New Search or Revise Your Search Terms

To start a new search after looking at your results, use the Search tab to return to the search screen. Click on Clear Fields to be sure that no elements of your previous search remain, and make a new selection of keywords and characteristics.

 

There are two ways to revise a search rather than starting over. The simplest is to note the terms you searched on, which are listed at the top of the Results screen, then go back to the Search screen to enter the terms again. You can also return to the search screen with your search terms still there, which is particularly helpful if you selected a group of districts by hand. To do this, use your browser’s back button instead of the navigation tabs. Note: if you have opened several contracts from the Results screen already, you’ll have to click back through all those screens before you get back to Search.

 

 

screen shot of back button


 

 


Advanced Keyword Searches

 

This section explains some powerful additional features available for keyword searches. Searching based on proximity, wildcards, and word relationships can help you to find examples of contract language on a particular topic or with particular conditions. Note, however, that this kind of searching is not as simple as it sounds. For instance, if you search on a keyword and get few results, this may mean that any number of other agreements use a different word or phrase for the same concept. To get a comprehensive understanding of how the concept appears in agreements, you’ll need to try several angles on your keyword search. A series of keyword searches and their results are shown below to give you ideas about how to approach a keyword search. They also illustrate how you can combine these search techniques.

 

Whether using simple or advanced keyword searches, experiment freely and keep refining your keywords and phrases by examining agreements in your Results list.  You will get better and better if you use your results as feedback for editing your keyword.

Proximity Searching

A proximity search uses the term ‘near’ to search for a second word or phrase within a specified number of words before and after a word. The default is searching 10 words before and after your first keyword.

 

For example, if you wanted to look for agreements in which personal leave is deducted from sick leave, you could try the keyword ‘sick leave near personal’:

 

 

 

This search returns almost 250 matches, and the results may or may not be relevant, as in the following examples; one specifies that personal leave will not be deducted from sick leave and one is not relevant.

 

 

 

 

To eliminate results like ‘personal accumulation’ we might specify ‘personal day.’ ‘Sick leave near personal day’, however, returns only 23 results.

 

 

 

One sample of the language found in these results concerns adding unused personal leave to sick leave accumulation (the opposite of what we’re looking for) and the other is not relevant.

 

 

 

 

Something that may be excluding relevant results is that an agreement might refer only to the plural—‘personal days’. This search does in fact return more results, some of which overlap with the prior search.

 

 

 

 

Personal days are sometimes referred to not as ‘days’ but as ‘leave’. A search on this term demonstrates that it is more commonly used.

 

 

 

The term ‘near’ is set at a default of 10 words before or after your search term, but you can specify a wider window, such as ‘near(30)’. Extending the previous search to 30 words of proximity produces significantly more results. However, many of these will specify that personal leave is not deducted from sick leave. In the next section, we will refine the search further by using wildcards.

 

 

 

Wildcard Searching

Wildcard searching can help you find variations of a word without having to search on each one individually. The asterisk (*) is the wildcard symbol, and it can be used before, after, or in the middle of a word.

 

For instance, in the proximity searching examples above we searched on both ‘personal day’ and ‘personal days’. Using the search term ‘personal day*’ retrieves both. Using the proximity search, the two searches produced 23 and 65 results respectively. Adding the wildcard to ‘day’, we get 77 results, indicating some overlap between the two searches but retrieving all of the results from both.

 

 

We have been searching to find agreements in which personal days (leave) are deducted from sick leave rather than being a separate entitlement, but so far our searches have often resulted in irrelevant language. Perhaps the word ‘deducted’ would do a better job of retrieving relevant examples. The phrase ‘will be deducted from’ occurred above, but since the word ‘deduction’ might also be used we could try a wild card—‘deduct*’.

 

 

Checking some of our results, we find some language that is exactly what we’re looking for, and some that is still off the mark:

 

 

 

 

We could refine our keyword further by focusing on the difference in phrasing between ‘will be deducted from’ and ‘will not be deducted from’. Since ‘will’ and ‘shall’ may both be used here, a carefully crafted keyword would be: ‘personal leave near (30) *ll be deduct* from sick’. This is so specific that it may not retrieve agreements in which there is actually some provision for personal leave being deducted from sick leave, but there are two concrete examples of relevant language. The last example below demonstrates that the words match our search but be inverted and therefore not about what we are searching for.

 

 

 

 

Another way wildcard searching can be useful is when a term is spelled differently in different contracts. For example, provisions about buying back sick leave include all these spellings: buyback, buy-back, and buy back. ‘Sick near buy*’ would retrieve all of these spellings.

 

Word Relationships Searching

Two terms—‘and’ and ‘or’— can be used to specify a relationship between words or phrases to narrow or broaden your search in a useful way. The search terms are used as follows:

 

A and B narrows your search by looking for A, but only returning a hit if B is also in the document. Note that A and B may not be near each other.

 

A  or  B widens your search range by looking for A and then for B, and returning results if either A or B is in the document.

 

Note that because these two terms are recognized by the search engine as programming terms, you should not use them in keyword phrases. If you do need them—for instance, ‘wages and benefits’—you need to put quotes around the word so it will be treated as a word and not a programming term:  ‘wages “and” benefits’.

 

For example, to research ‘supermax’ in the context of longevity clauses more generally, you can do a series of searches to determine frequency and overlap of terms.

 

‘Supermax’ yields 8 results.

‘Longevity’ yields 265 results.

‘Supermax and longevity’ yields 2 results.

‘Supermax or longevity’ yields 269 results.

 

The results indicate that these two terms are generally mutually exclusive. They also seem to indicate that some agreements use another term altogether, as there are over 300 agreements in the database and all of them must have clauses relating to longevity. Note that supermax is sometimes spelled super-max, so a wildcard in the middle would provide more accurate results—super*max.

 

Experiment, Experiment

Experimenting freely will help you get better and better at keyword searching. Sample the results from a search by looking in several agreements, and craft a new search that looks like the more relevant results.

 

 

 


More Information About Search Fields

 

Search Field

Description

District

You can select one district by clicking on it, or select a group of districts by holding down your control key while scrolling down the list and clicking on several districts.

Type of District

The drop-down list allows you to select one of the following district types:  Elementary, Municipal K-12, Regional K-12, Regional Secondary, Voc-Tech/Agricultural.

Union Affiliation

The drop-down list allows you to select one of the following: AFT (American Federation of Teachers - Massachusetts,) MTA (Massachusetts Teachers Association,) No Union, Teamsters.

Expiring Year

The drop-down list of expiring years is for all agreements currently in the database. You can select more than one by holding down your control key while scrolling down the list and clicking.

Superintendency Union

Selecting a union will return all its member districts. You can select more than one by holding down your control key while scrolling down the list and clicking.

(Note: shared superintendencies that are not formally unions are not included in the list.)

Regional HS Members

The drop-down list allows you to select a regional secondary district and this will return all the elementary member districts as well.

Vocational HS Members

The drop-down list allows you to select a regional vocational school district and this will return all the member districts as well.

County

The drop-down list allows you to select any Massachusetts county.

ESE Region

The drop-down list allows you to select any of the six ESE regions supported by District and School Assistance Centers – Berkshires, Central, Greater Boston, Northeast, Pioneer Valley, Southeast – or the group called the Commissioner’s Districts.

Urban

The drop-down list allows you to select ‘Urban Supt Network’ which will return the 24 districts in the network.

Kind of Community

The drop-down list allows you to select among the community types defined by the ESE School Finance Unit: economically developed suburbs, residential suburbs, resort/retirement/artistic, rural economic centers, small rural communities, urbanized centers. You can select several by holding down your control key while scrolling down the list and clicking.

Number of Schools

Select a range such as ‘<10’, or ‘>20’, or ’10 to 12’. If you enter one number, only districts with exactly that number of schools will be returned.

Enrollment

Select a range such as ‘<3,000’, or ‘>10,000’, or ‘4,000 to 6,000’. If you enter one number, only districts with exactly that number enrolled will be returned. The data is from the most recent October 1st SIMS data collection.

Percent Low Income Students

Select a range using numbers between 1 and 100 (no percent sign) such as ‘<20’, or ‘>75’, or ‘50 to 75’. If you enter one number, only districts with exactly that percent of low-income students will be returned.

Grade Start

The drop-down list includes start grades for districts and allows you to select elementary or secondary districts by specific grade configurations.

Grade End

The drop-down list includes ending grades for districts and allows you to select elementary or secondary districts by specific grade configurations.