For the first time in 35 years, teachers in Bridgeport voted to ratify a contract agreement that takes big steps to improve public education and help retain and recruit educators in the city’s schools. The Bridgeport Board of Education worked together with the Bridgeport Education Association to settle the contract at the bargaining table for the first time since 1988, avoiding the need for arbitration.
“We are grateful that the Bridgeport Board of Education has taken much-needed actions to protect the interests of Bridgeport students and teachers and raise salaries, which are currently the lowest among the Fairfield County school districts,” said Bridgeport Education Association President Jeff Morrissey. “In the midst of the teacher shortage and a loss of 242 teachers last year alone, the board’s actions go a long way toward improving teacher retention and working conditions for our dedicated educators.”
The contract, approved by the 1,500 members of the Bridgeport Education Association, calls for a 17.49% salary increase over four years, with a starting salary increase to $50,000 per year for those entering the profession. Salaries for veteran educators with a master’s degree will also increase, along with stipends and hourly rates for extra duties.
The contract also preserves class size limits (which benefit students by preventing large, often unmanageable classes), provides for more classroom supplies, increases family sick leave from five to 10 days, allowing educators to care for family members in times of illness or emergencies, and through continued participation in the Connecticut Partnership Plan, curbs high health insurance premium costs and creates savings both for the city and its staff.
Morrissey says of the nearly 250 teachers who left the Bridgeport school system between June 2022 and July 2023, almost two-thirds (63%) had been working in the city for less than five years.
“This contract is a good first step in stopping the hemorrhaging of teachers leaving our urban school district for higher salaries in surrounding towns. It recognizes the commitment of the city’s hard-working educators and all they do to support student learning, by increasing compensation for Bridgeport educators, making it more comparable to neighboring districts.”
Currently, the starting salary for teachers with a master’s degree in Bridgeport is $46,880, ranking at the bottom, #26, among other Fairfield County school districts. Monroe is ranked #1, paying $66,574.
“Teachers are underpaid, underappreciated, and underresourced—all factors that have led to the teacher shortage crisis, which is especially acute in our largest urban school districts,” said CEA President Kate Dias. “Talented, educated teachers are leaving the profession in droves for higher-paying careers with less stress. That’s why it’s critical to take bold actions to ensure teachers are paid a competitive salary and that they are respected and supported.”
The new contract takes effect July 1, 2024.