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Weare: Voters OK contract for Stark Regional High School teachers

Union Leader Correspondent

March 14. 2018 11:45PM

The third try was the charm for John Stark Regional High School teachers who had their contract approved one year after voters twice rejected proposals.

The John Stark School Board and teachers union found the right formula this year, as voters from Weare and Henniker approved, by a vote of 998-638 on Tuesday, a $113,686 year-one expenditure for the new collective bargaining agreement.

“It’s obviously good for morale to have the support of the community in the form of a contract that passes,” said John Stark Regional High School Teachers’ Association President Randy Brooker, “and I think the negotiating team and the school board found the right balance with the package that will attract and keep quality people here at John Stark, while also being aware of the economy right now and the needs of the community.”

John Stark School Board Chairman Zack Lawson said the two-year process paid off. To get there, he said the two parties agreed to increase pay at a slight hit to medical benefits, which he said are more unstable.

“It’s good for the voters because we’ve bent the curve for total cost while also creating a solution that attracts and retains top educational talent,” he said.

On the same day voters rejected both the Weare School District and municipal operating budgets, they combined with their Henniker counterparts to support the John Stark School District operating budget of $13,304,543, 947-680.

And voters, by a vote of 1,177-462, also gave the thumbs up to $2,288,690 worth of energy saving equipment, including a wood chip boiler, insulation and LED lighting in what district officials promise will be a tax-neutral plan to replace the district’s outdated oil boiler system.

“The state is requiring us to replace the current oil lines to the oil tank this year,” said Lawson. “When we looked at that cost, which is $55,000, and the fact that the boiler itself and oil tank are 31 years old, we knew we needed to look at the entirety of the building infrastructure. It wouldn’t make sense for us to tear up the oil lines and replace them only to discover a year later that another fuel source would be the better way to go.”

Not only has the board been guaranteed the system will pay for itself, but other school districts that have adopted a similar energy-saving system, such as Plymouth, have reported savings above and beyond their expectations, he said.

“It’s more than likely that the savings we will see in reduced energy costs from increased efficiencies will be greater than the $119,719 annual lease payment,” said Lawson.

“We may be able to pay off the lease early or make additional energy updates to the building.”

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