Eighteen months of negotiations bore fruit Wednesday, the Tewksbury School Committee ratified one-year and three-year contracts with the Tewksbury Teachers Association.
The teachers had been working without a contract since a one-year contact expired June 30, 2011. The new one-year deal will be retroactive and run through June 30, 2012. It is identical to the previous contract, with the teachers agreeing to no raises.
"This is the second year in a row that our teachers have not taken a raise. We are very appreciative of that," said Superintendent of Schools Dr. John O'Connor.
The three-year deal runs through June 30, 2015 and includes two percent annual raises.
"Ultimately, we feel this contract will fill the best interests of our students and our staff and the community," said School Committee Chairperson Krissy Polimeno.
Representatives from the teachers union were on hand at the Wynn School to sign the new contracts as soon as they were ratified.
"The Tewksbury Teachers Association is pleased this evening to have signed these contracts for a one-year and a three-year and we're very happy with the way we collaboratively worked together," said Cathy Bilodeau, co-president of the TTA. "It was a good experience and we look forward to (additional positive negotiations) in the future."
Other highlights from the contract include:
- Work year increased by two days (from 182 to 184).
- Increase in sick days from 13 to 15.
- Change in the sick leave buy back for retiring employees from 10 percent to 15 percent
- Introduce a cap on sick leave buy back: accumulation to a maximum of 250 days for new employees.
- Personal leave may not be used to extend vacation periods.
- One (1) emergency day introduced.
- Longevity payment ($1,000) will be offered to employees with more than 13 years of service.
According to O'Connor, these negotiations were unusual because they did not involve lawyers or professional negotiators. The school district team was led by Polimeno and School Committee member Jayne Miller. The TTA team was led by Bilodeau, co-President Francesca Rouff and Vice President Babara Gillette Manna, as well as other educators from throughout the district.
Gillette Manna said she appreciated the "professionalism" of those involved in the negotiations. Rouff said it helped that both sides had the same basic objective.
"We both were looking for a resolution to the contract in a quick, amicable way," she said.