Back in the mid-2000s, in public and in the news media, Joseph P. Burke, then the superintendent of the Springfield public schools, and Timothy T. Collins, the president of the local teachers’ union, often seemed to be at odds with each other.
With the Massachusetts city under the control of an independent finance control board, Mr. Collins’ members faced no raises. Turnover was high. Reporting in part to the board, Mr. Burke faced competing pressures during drawn-out contract negotiations.
Out of the public eye, however, the two men had begun meeting regularly, with help from the Cambridge, Mass.-based Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy. Gradually, they put new initiatives jointly into motion, including efforts to use surveys to improve school climate. When Mr. Burke left the district, the work continued under his successor, Alan J. Ingram, who appointed Mr. Collins to the district’s senior leadership team and budget-advisory committee. Both bodies provide advice to the superintendent.
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