CVSD approves teachers’ contract

SCOOTER MACMILLAN
Staff Writer

The Champlain Valley School District Board approved a teachers’ contract at the final meeting before the summer break.

CVSD Director of Human Resources Mark McDermott said that he couldn’t release a copy of the contract because they are awaiting signatures.

“The contracts are ratified but not yet signed, so they can’t be distributed yet,” he said by phone. McDermott said the only change from the current contract is a 3.25 percent increase for teacher’s salaries. This is the only new money being added to the budget, he said.

The 3.25 percent increase in funding to teacher salaries will go into a pool from which pay increases will be distributed to individual teachers depending upon their level of education and years of experience.

Lisa Bisbee, chief negotiator for the teachers’ union, said the teachers are happy with the contract. She said that the teachers didn’t get exactly what they wanted, but neither did the school board.

She said she does worry about upcoming negotiations about health insurance in October, however.

“We are concerned about the health care coverage because health insurance will be decided on the state level,” Bisbee said.

This contract is just for one year because the state has mandated that teacher insurance will be negotiated at the state level.

Legislators last year created a 10-member commission charged with negotiating a statewide health care plan for Vermont’s roughly 40,000 school employees. The commission is made up of five union representatives – four from the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association (NEA), and one from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees – and five school board representatives from around the state.

Bisbee said most if not all of the Vermont school districts she knows of have negotiated one-year contracts because “the legislature has mandated that everyone be on the same time table.”

Bisbee said that she hopes having the process switch to the state level won’t affect the membership’s relationship with the CVSD School Board.

“Our board is an extremely respectful board and we’ve got a really good relationship,” she said. “They listened and were respectful even when we disagreed.”

The bulk of the June 18 CVSD board meeting was taken up in an executive session to consider and vote on the teacher’s contract. Those present went into closed session shortly after coming to order and moved to adjourn after coming out of the closed session.

With many people on vacation, the meeting was conducted with a minimal amount of school administration and school board members present. The minimum needed for the 12-member school board to have a quorum is six. Just six were present: chair Lynne Jaunich, Josilyn Adams, Angela Arsenault, Erin Brady, Dave Connery and Colleen MacKinnon. Brady was recused from the executive session to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest since it concerned teacher contracts and she teaches in another district. The quorum was achieved by having school board member Ray Mainer participate by phone. With Superintendent Elaine Pinckney absent, McDermott was the sole representative from the administration.

The voted to approve the contact 6-0.

The teacher’s contact for this past year can be seen at this link: https://www.cvsdvt.org/cms/lib/VA02000902/Centricity/Domain/294/TeacherCollectiveBargainingAgreement2017-19.pdf. The chart with the various education levels and years of experience is on page 83.

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