MeredithMay2017

Gilmanton teacher contract goes to voters

New proposal got five minutes of discussion at deliberative session

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILMANTON — Voters next month will decide on a second contract proposal for Gilmanton teachers that seeks significantly less money than the one they rejected in March, but it still would add more than a half-million dollars in salary and benefits over the life of the contract.

The special May 16 deliberative session on a proposed collective bargaining agreement between the Gilmanton School Board and the Gilmanton Education Association lasted a mere five minutes and the only action was to standardize the wording for the school board and budget committee recommendations.

Only 16 residents attended the meeting and, apart from Katie Bass’s suggestion on ballot language, only Joseph Haas had questions to pose, according to draft minutes of the meeting released by School Administrative Unit 79 Administrative Assistant Rachel Hatch.

Haas asked what the “association” was and, if the article passed, who would sign it. He also asked whether the residents would get to vote on the agreement, and what would happen if the article failed.

The association is the teachers’ union that negotiated a new contract with the school board after voters rejected a previous collective bargaining agreement in March. The cost items outlined in the new agreement would provide $90,232.90 in additional salaries and benefits in the 2017-18 budget, $89,487.71 in 2018-19, and $98,030.47 in 2019-20. Over the life of the contract, due to the compounding factor, that would add $549,194.97 to the teachers’ current pay, although the ballot vote will only include the first-year appropriation.

Ballot voting, which will take place Tuesday, June 13, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at Gilmanton Academy, would appropriate only the first year’s expenditures.

Should the article pass, representatives of both the school board and the teachers’ union will sign it. If it fails, teachers would continue operating under the existing contract.

A sticking point in the agreement that voters rejected in March was the cost of health insurance, which led to the budget committee recommending against its passage. The budget committee endorsed the current proposal, which tackles the rising costs of health insurance by offering lower premiums but higher deductibles for services.