Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Susan McMillan email@example.com
READFIELD -- Representatives for Regional School Unit 38 and the district's teachers met Monday for the first time since a breakdown in contract negotiations earlier this year.
Teachers are working under the terms of five contracts that predate the formation of the school district in 2009, and the Maranacook Area Staff Association and school board are trying to negotiate a single contract for about 110 teachers at six schools. The last of the old contracts expired in summer 2011.
School board Chairwoman Samantha Horn Olsen said she hopes that the latest contract meetings will be productive and an agreement will allow everyone to put all their energy into education.
"I think the most important thing is just to talk with each other and understand that we all care about the education of the students," she said. "The board really respects the job that the teachers do, and I think that it's the face-to-face discussion that will help us come to a resolution on this."
RSU 38 serves Manchester, Mount Vernon, Readfield and Wayne.
The negotiating teams have reached a tentative agreement on compensation and health insurance, but disagreements remain about working conditions. The task of merging five contracts has also complicated the process.
Face-to-face negotiations initially failed to produce an agreement, and then work through a mediator broke down in August.
The union requested fact-finding with the Maine Labor Relations Board, and about 40 teachers attended a school board meeting in September to bring attention to their concerns. They said some of the team's proposals were demeaning and asked to restart negotiations with a new team appointed by the board.
Association president Patricia Morris later met with Superintendent Donna Wolfrom, Olsen and others to figure out how to get back to the table.
The district negotiating team added two more school board members but did not remove anyone. Morris said that could change the dynamics of negotiations and help the two sides move past sticking points.
The association put fact-finding on hold and agreed to two meetings, the one on Monday and another in January.
Susan McMillan -- 621-5645