Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


June 28, 2012

TEACHERS APPROVE CONTRACT: Ends two years of heated debate

Andover teachers have approved a contract, paving the way for a new agreement for the first time in 96 weeks.

Teachers ratified a new three-year contract deal with a 280-83 vote Tuesday at Doherty Middle School's Memorial Auditorium. The vote came nearly a week after bargaining teams representing Andover's teachers and the School Committee reached a tentative agreement just days following a state-authored "fact-finders" report that criticized teachers for supporting a high school schedule that had them covering duties rather than teaching. The new deal, if ratified by the School Committee at its meeting tomorrow morning, will be effective from the beginning of this past school year to Aug. 31, 2014.

School Committee Chairwoman Paula Colby-Clements and Andover Education Association President Kerry Costello both declined to provide further details on the contract, including what high school teaching model it contains, pending School Committee ratification.

"It's the closing of one chapter and the opening of another," said Costello. "The membership has spoken. As president, I will carry the mandate forward."

The affirmative vote tops a busy week for the School Committee and the town's teachers union, which started last Tuesday with a seven-hour bargaining session ending with a tentative contract deal early Wednesday morning, after Townsman deadline. Thursday saw the passage of all of the high school's self-study accreditation reports, despite an effort by a small group of teachers to block them in what teacher Jen Meagher described in an email to other teachers as "the only leverage we have left at the bargaining table" (see related story).

The School Committee's bargaining team expects to recommend to the full School Committee that it ratify the contract, Colby-Clements said.

"This has been a very long and difficult process for everybody — for the community, for the teachers, for the administration, for the committee," said Colby-Clements. "At this point, I think the School Committee is feeling relieved of the work, that the teachers have ratified it, and I'm happy that we can go into the school year next year with a contract in place."

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