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February 25. 2013 11:35PM

Raises, longer contract possible for Nashua teachers

NASHUA - Negotiations between district officials and the Nashua Teachers' Union are under way to replace the soon-to-expire $71 million two-year pact negotiated in 2011, and according to school officials the new contract could result in higher salaries and a longer contract for the teachers.

The teachers' contract is one of four in the district set to expire, as the secretarial, custodial and food services contracts are all set to end this summer.

"There might be some potential raises involved," said Dan Donovan, Nashua School District chief operating officer.

Combined, 1,400 (or 75 percent) of the district's total work force are set to have their contracts expire. In the proposed operating budget for the next school year, 79 percent of the $97 million requested is employee salary.

"In the last teachers' contract, teachers got very small raises, and they made medical cost concessions where they pay 10 percent more. For many teachers, the amount they paid for medical coverage doubled. So while teachers got almost 2 percent total increases in salary, most teachers' paychecks went down due to the medical cost increases," Donovan said.

Donovan added that the teachers will probably not be asked to make further concessions when it comes to medical costs during this round of negotiations.

"We are looking for roughly the same numbers, but it is a negotiation so it could be a different contract length," he said.

Along with the teachers' contract, the district is also in active discussions with the custodians' union representatives and is expected to begin negotiations soon with the secretarial staff and food services.

"Once the teachers' contract is finished, the others should fall into place," Donovan said.

District Superintendent Mark Conrad and School Board President Robert Hallowell are leading negotiations on behalf of the school district with the hope that the new contract will be in place by the start of the next school year in late August.

Hallowell previously said the final number for next year's school budget will probably not be known until June, something Donovan said can complicate negotiations.

"With all the changes in Concord that have affected cities and towns as costs have been passed down, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau decided to push off (finalizing budget numbers). It was a good move. It prevents costs from being passed down late in the year, but it makes for a long budget season," Donovan said.

Donovan did clarify that he is not taking part in the negotiations with the teachers, as his wife is a teacher in the district.

Once completed, each of the four contracts will be presented to the School Board, and if they pass, they will then go before the Board of Aldermen and mayor for approval.

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