Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

April 3, 2014

Recent teacher contract talks a vast improvement

(Continued)

In addition to the above, there has been a vastly improving atmosphere of cooperation between the AEA and school administration. Not a single grievance has been filed by the AEA during this period. Disagreements as they occur are being worked out without unnecessary legal expenses and use of valuable management time. An improved working environment does contribute to an improved learning environment.

During the most recent round of negotiations, the School Committee successfully negotiated a return of important management rights in regards to the middle school schedule that allows the school administration to make future changes in the schedule that can improve the educational experience and student achievement. In addition, the School Committee negotiated a 5.5-percent cost of living increase over the course of three years, well within the recommendation of the town manager and the contracts currently being negotiated in other communities.

The ability to reach an agreement in a limited time simply reflects the improvement in the relationship between the School Committee and the AEA and the positive problem-solving approach taken by both negotiating subcommittees. An in-depth study of the financial impact of the agreement was fully taken into consideration.

I realize that there are different opinions about the outcome of this contract. However, it is important that you know that all School Committee members participated in the process, while the School Committee consulted with the town manager, Finance Committee and Board of Selectman. The school’s leadership team was closely involved in the process and the School Committee made use of the legal and negotiation services provided by the same team that assisted us in the previous negotiation. As one former member of the Andover School Committee, I do believe that the entire community is well served by this agreement. A contentious, combative and tumultuous union relationship is not in the best interest of student achievement.

Dennis Forgue

18 Reservation Road

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