Windham teachers, school board unable to reach agreement on contractBy CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent
January 05. 2018 9:23PM
WINDHAM — The Windham School Board and teachers’ union were unable to reach an agreement on a contract this week despite 13 hours of mediation.
Given the lack of a deal, the teachers’ union asserts Windham residents will not have a warrant article on town meeting day in March to vote on a contract. This is the third time in six years a contract has not been in place.
The lengthy collective bargaining ended late Wednesday night after the two sides failed to find common ground on several contentious issues, particularly health insurance and retirement benefits, although members of the Windham Education Association say the teachers have agreed to several concessions on both topics.
“We can’t have people lose money on any new contract, and it was very hard to get the school board to understand that,” said AnnMarie Morse, president of the teachers’ union.
“Our proposals were steeped in reason and common sense. We weren’t asking a lot and probably gave up too much, but we knew that reaching a deal was critical,” she added. “We would have solved major problems by updating coaching and club stipends and creating language that would combat the growing class size problems.”
School board Chairman Rob Breton said Friday he had no commen as the school board had not yet discussed “all that transpired during the negotiations.”
But Morse and the Windham Education Association say the board has failed to secure the most important asset in the district — the 241 teachers. The union is highlighting the growing concern about the departure of a number of teachers and other school-related staff.
Windham High School in particular has had high turnover since it opened in 2009, with six different principals and only about 15 remaining educators from nine years ago.
“It’s not a secret that the instability in this district has caused major problems, and we fear an all too recent history repeating itself. We lost irreplaceable teachers then and this just sets the district and town back once again,” Morse said.