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May 27. 2014 10:48PM

Manchester school chief, union discuss 2014-15 calendar

MANCHESTER — The superintendent and the president of the teachers union will be working to come up with a new calendar for the 2014-15 school year in the wake of the rejection of a new contract by most of the union’s members.

The calendar was a component of the proposed contract, which Manchester Education Association members rejected last week, largely over concerns about higher health care costs and insufficient salary increases.

The school board gave its approval on Tuesday to a preliminary calendar that will largely restore the schedule in place before the current school year, which is hour-based rather than day-based. The hour-based schedule was seen as a way to give the administration more flexibility, but it also created problems by shortening the school day for teachers and leaving students unattended at the close of the school day.

The tentative schedule would shorten the school day in the elementary and middle schools. The elementary school day would run 8:35 a.m. to 2:35 p.m. The middle school day would run from 7:35 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The change would revert to the language of the 2009 teacher contract, requiring teachers to start the day 15 minutes before students and end their day 15 minutes after. It would replace a memorandum of understanding with teachers in place for the current school year that is expiring.

To meet state requirement for minimum instruction time, however, the superintendent is proposing having middle school teachers start 10 minutes before students, rather than 15.

MEA President Ben Dick told the board that this was the most promising option at this stage.

“I can’t promise you easy fixes on anything, but I promise the bigger problem would be to add five minutes to the teacher’s day than to take away five from the time they have to start,” he said.

The projected last day of the school year under the proposed calendar would be June 16, 2015.

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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