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MSAD 58 ratifies contracts with teachers, ed techs

The MSAD 58 school board unanimously supported ratifying contracts with the teachers association and ed techs Tuesday evening.

The MSAD 58 school board unanimously supported ratifying contracts with the teachers association and ed techs Tuesday evening.

STRONG - The school board ratified new contracts with the Mt. Abram Teachers Association and the MSAD 58 Education Technicians Tuesday evening, with association members and board directors offering unanimous support and congratulations.

"We are very, very happy to have this done," MATA President Sally Bean said.

The negotiations took five, multi-hour sessions, according to Superintendent Susan Pratt, with both the MATA and school board unanimously voting to ratify the new contract. The ed tech contract marked the first of its kind in MSAD 58, placing those employees at average wages for western Maine, Pratt added.

On June 17, at the same meeting at which the school board announced it was hiring Pratt to be the district's next superintendent, the board voted to declare an impasse in 3 years of arbitration and failed negotiations. A 4.5 percent wage increase was retroactively applied over the past 3 years and health insurance premiums moved to 85 percent provided by the district and 15 percent by the teacher for individuals; with a 75/25 percent split for family premiums.

At the first meeting she attended as superintendent in early July, Pratt asked the board to consider "interest-based bargaining" when it sat down at the negotiating table with the Mt. Abram Teachers Association. As opposed to a more adversarial-style system of negotiating, with interest-based bargaining both parties work together to problem solve and address issues in a collaborative manner. Negotiating teams from the board and association trained together and developed a list of issues to be discussed, Pratt said, prior to developing a consensus.

The board unanimously agreed to try the new method and appointed several negotiators to meet with the association. Last week, the board scheduled a special meeting to discuss the contracts. Tuesday evening, following approximately an hour-long executive session, Director Faith Richard of Phillips made the motion to ratify a contract with the MATA.

The board vote was unanimous. Bean said that association members had voted by written ballot to sign the contract without any dissenting votes.

The MATA contract includes a revamped salary scale that improves base pay for new teachers. Pratt calculated that the 3-year contract represented 2.1 percent in new funding the first year, followed by base pay increases of 1.5 percent and 1.65 percent the following two years.

Health insurance premium cost coverage, which proved one of the major sticking points over the past 3 years, were held at the 85/75 percent district coverage rate applied by the board in June. Two new plans were being offered through the Maine Educations Association Benefits Trust, Bean said, although those would not cost the district anything.

The contract was updated with other, minor changes, Pratt and Bean both said, including some new language that applied an evaluation system to assess teachers.

Ed techs would be provided with an hourly wage that ranged from $12 per hour for an Ed Tech I in his or her first year to $13.50 for an Ed Tech III in year one. The contract put wages in line with the western Maine average Pratt said. Ed techs would receive the same, 85 percent premium cost coverage that teachers had for individual plans, but no family plan.

"It was an inclusive, open and honest process that emphasized problem solving," Pratt said of the negotiations. "I think we rebuilt some positive relationships between the board and association negotiators."

Both association and district representatives spoke to the importance of concluding negotiations before the school year got underway.

"We had good, honest discussions," Bean said. "It was a much better process."

"It's great to go into the school year with the bus drivers and custodians, the teaching association and the ed techs all signed to 3-year contracts," Pratt said.

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7 Responses »

  1. Congratulations to all!!! This has been a long time coming. Great things happening in MSAD 58.

  2. Sue Pratt will do wonderful things for SAD58...they are very lucky to have her as their Superintendent!

  3. About time things starting moving in a positive direction for SAD 58! Sue Pratt is a welcomed addition to the administration and will continue to bring positive change for all. Good luck to all the staff and to all the students of SAD 58! Have a great, positive school year!

  4. Good job Sue Pratt! No more money spent on lawyers. Sue has already earned her pay and she has only been on the job 2 months. Thank You

  5. She was superintendent in Rangeley last year and she was awesome!!! She will be missed that's for sure

  6. It is great to see that things are moving in a positive direction for this district. There will be bumps in the road but if we do what is best for children and give them the resources needed to succeed, the district can thrive.

  7. Sue is missed in SAD9 as well!