By Alex Malm
Despite the school district reaching a tentative agreement with the negotiating team for the union that represents support staff, Superintendent, Dan Black, announced during the Jan. 10 School Board meeting that the union members rejected the deal.
“The unfortunate outcome is that their wages are frozen and there are no changes to their contract,” said Black.
Black said one of the highlights as part of the three year tentative agreement would be to add an additional workshop day for support staff.
Another highlight would be that all special education and 504 assistants would be moved from a Grade 3 employee to a Grade 4 classification.
Black said they would’ve also received an increase in wages based on the tentative agreement including wage increases being based on the CPI. The minimum would be 2.5% and would go to 4.5% as a maximum.
He also noted employees would have an opportunity to make more with more certifications they receive. For example, it was pointed out that special education and 504 assistants would be able to receive an additional 50 cents per hour if they became certified as a paraeducator II through the NH Department of Education.
In total, the estimated increase for wages would be $378,000, Black noted.
Additionally, the tentative agreement would’ve made changes to their time off policy.
For example, there would be an attendance bonus created, which would pay the employees $600 if no sick days were used by the end of the year. As part of the deal, the employees would’ve received $400 if one day of sick time is used and $200 if two days are used. The employees would also receive a $100 bonus if no personal time was used.
“We did make some changes around leave and sick time too,” said Black.
The biggest change Black pointed to was the offering of health insurance. He added that currently a small group within the union is grandfathered in, but not everyone is eligible for it.
In total, Black said the health insurance would cost the district an extra $394,000 over the course of the contract.
“I thought that was a very good offer that you all made,”‘ said Black.
School Board member, Bob Slater, said they have been hearing for years that not offering health insurance for all members of the union has been something that has impacted people wanting to work for the school district, which they offered with the new deal.
“No one in this district should go without benefits,” said Slater.
Slater said he was disappointed to hear that the union members voted no on the contract.
“To hear a no vote it was just disheartening for this school district,” said Slater.