MANCHESTER — School district officials and unions both say they are open to continued talks in hopes of hatching a concessions deal, but as of Tuesday not all unions had scheduled further talks.
“We don't have anything ongoing, but the door is never closed,” Manchester Education Association President Ben Dick said. (See related story, Page B1.)
Mayor Ted Gatsas said he too was open to further discussions with all school unions, but a Board of School Committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening was postponed because there were no tentative agreements ready for discussion.
Gatsas said if a tentative agreement comes forward in the next few days, a meeting could be scheduled.
Last week, both the MEA and the Association of Manchester Principals turned down tentative agreements that would have required staff to pay more toward health insurance, but in turn would have saved school jobs and handed out large severance bonuses to encourage senior staff members to retire.
Although the principal's union turned down the concession deal last week, union president Rick Norton said he and school officials left the door open for more talks.
“I'm anticipating we'll be meeting later on this week, but nothing is set up at this point,” said Norton.
Unions representing coordinators and directors, paraprofessionals and other school support staff currently have meetings scheduled for concession talks, Gatsas said.
Superintendent of Schools Thomas Brennan has not proposed laying off any paraprofessionals, but all school unions have come forward in hopes of saving jobs.
The school board approved laying off 161 full-time staff positions, 143 of which are teachers. Brennan has issued notices to nine full-time and one part-time assistant principals, one in each of the middle and high schools. Elementary schools with fewer than 500 students would lose their assistant principals as well.
Dick said Tuesday the MEA is working on talking to aldermen about the budget needs of the school district, providing help for laid-off teachers and looking toward what school will be like next school year.
“We all know things next year are going to be very difficult, but no one knows what it's going to look like until it happens,” Dick said.