The Manchester Education Association and Manchester Board of School Committee announced a tentative agreement on a teachers’ contract early yesterday evening. The contract governing the relationship between the district and the teachers expired on June thirtieth two thousand thirteen. Since then, the teachers have soundly defeated two other contracts tentatively agreed to and declared impasse along with the district on a third. Prior to the contracts, the union rejected a tentative agreement on a contract extension which led to approximately eighty layoffs in the oh twelve oh thirteen school year.
A primary sticking point in the negotiations has been changes the city sought to the health insurance program. Mayor Ted Gatsas proposed increasing the premium percentage paid by teachers and marginally higher plan deductibles and co-pays. In the year of the layoffs, the changes were projected to save four and a half million dollars, which Gatsas pledged to use to avoid layoffs, as he did with agreements reached with the police, fire and other unions in the city. The teachers rejected the deal by a three to one margin.
According to a statement released yesterday, highlights of the proposed contract, which was not provided with the statement, include changes to salary schedules and health insurance plans. If approved, the agreement also would return the academic calendar to an hours-based schedule, which proved popular with teachers and parents during the oh thirteen oh fourteen school year and would have come in darn handy in the current one, that’s for sure. The hours calendar provides school days that are a little bit longer so there can be a number of built-in snow days that don’t have to be made up in June. It was something proposed by Gatsas after learning that state statutes require students to be in school for nine hundred ninety hours, not one hundred eighty days. The union entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that year as an amendment to its contract, but declined to continue the agreement for subsequent years, citing ongoing negotiations.
There was no information on the impact the contract would have on the district’s budget, which is slated to be voted on by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday at a special meeting. Superintendent Debra Livingston declined to answer questions posed to her by members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen when she appeared at their special meeting on the budget this past Monday, saying the matter was still under negotiation and that the districts’ budget could only reflect the reality that there was no contractual terms to incorporate into the district’s budget proposal.
The proposed contract is expected to be voted on by the Manchester Education Association’s membership next week. We have requested a copy of this now public document and will publish it once received so that the general public has its rightful opportunity to see it and comment on it before it’s voted on by the Board of School Committee, a vote which might come as early as this Monday’s regular meeting, which as noted, happens to be the day before the aldermen will vote on the district’s budget.
Negotiations are under way with just about every city union, all of whose contracts expire this June thirtieth. As we’ve discussed on this program, there are clues that a deal is in the works, so look for the aldermen to probably siphon off some, if not all, of the half a million dollar surplus in excess of what was projected by Gatsas in March and put it in the contingency account.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
During our reports on the Timberlane Regional School District’s continued tussle with tyrannical behavior, we shared a line or two from an email sent by school board and Sandown Withdrawal Feasibility Committee member Rob Collins accusing Sandown Selectman Cindy Buco of forcing him to file a Right to Know Request with the Sandown Board of Selectmen to obtain a copy of the letter sent by the board to the state Board of Education announcing it had formed a minority committee to examine, on its own, withdrawal from the Timberlane Regional School District. Can’t imagine why anybody would want to do that. Anyway, Buco returned fire in an email obtained by Girard at Large that advised recipients of the following: Quote
Just an FYI, the letter that was sent to the NH DOE was a letter sent from the Selectman’s Office and is public knowledge, our Selectman’s meetings are broadcasted publicly and when things are of high interest they may be in the newspaper. Regardless of how you may find out about these matters any official documentation/information you need on the Town of Sandown needs to be requested through the Town of Sandown’s Board of Selectman’s office.Have a nice day!
So, it would appear as if Collins’ attempt to make Buco look like an obstructionist because of something he read in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune was in fact an absurd, lame attempt to throw mud her way.
And, while we’re in Timberlane, School Board Member Donna Green is reporting on her blog that a Right to Know Request filed by a citizen has turned up some interesting paperwork from the district’s P R guru Gretchen Grosky. The invoices requested don’t show what work was done, just billings at, get this, one hundred fifty bucks and hour. In an email to the school board, the citizen questioned what evidence, if any, exists to show Grosky’s done the work the request for proposal required. From what it appears, the answer is none. We’ve linked to the blog with all the details.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is on the way.