Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

February 27, 2014

Birnbach: Teachers contact lacks analysis

The Andover Townsman

---- — Editor, Townsman:

At our recent School Committee executive session, two members who are leading our teachers contract discussions briefed the committee on the terms of the tentative agreement they reached with the teachers union.

At this executive session, I asked the subcommittee and superintendent to share with the School Committee their documented financial analysis identifying the total annual costs to support the terms of the proposed agreement. They were unable to provide this information.

Why is chairperson Dennis Forgue allegedly pushing for a quick vote on the teachers contract before being able to share this information with all committee members?

I have asked Mr. Forgue and Superintendent Marinel McGrath several times for copies of the financial and budgetary analysis related to their subcommittee’s proposed agreement with the teachers union, including spreadsheets, supporting documents, and revenue and cost-saving assumptions. To date, I have not received this information.

This is alarming. Negotiations just started in January. Why are School Committee members rushing to fast-track a contract agreement — allegedly committing taxpayers and the Town of Andover to millions of dollars of obligation without first doing the financial due diligence?

And why hasn’t the School Committee reached out to the selectmen and Finance Committee to schedule an executive session to get their feedback and discuss how the proposed contract terms could impact other town departments in upcoming contract negotiations? How can a final vote be taken without their input?

In my 11 years on the School Committee, I have never seen anything like this.

David Birnbach

School Committee member