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ANwSU, teachers on brink of deal

VERGENNES — After nearly nine months of negotiations, teachers and Addison Northwest Supervisory Union officials have come to a tentative agreement on a new two-year contract.
Superintendent Tom O’Brien said that the contract, pending approval by the supervisory union board, will maintain the status quo on salary and benefit levels for teachers at the Vergennes-area schools, with the addition of the already budgeted salary increases.
The anticipated budget increases provide for a 2 percent increase spread across stepped positions — that is, teachers with higher education levels or longer tenures at the schools.
O’Brien said that since the contracts cover all teachers in ANwSU, the current discussion of school board unification would have no bearing on the contract.
Though the teacher’s union and ANwSU began discussions for a new contract in December, O’Brien said the negotiations stalled in mid-May.
“In May we were still looking at issues relating to salary and benefits,” he said. “We didn’t seem to be making any further progress, and both parties declared an impasse.”
In August, the parties met in a mediation session and hammered out a contract in one day. Shortly afterward, the Addison Northwest Teachers Association, or ANTA, ratified the new contract. Now the supervisory union board, with representatives from each school board in the district, will vote on ratification on Sept. 22, after which the details of the contract will be available.
“We had a lot of delicate things to discuss,” said Susan Husk, co-chief negotiator for the ANTA. “The atmosphere was positive — everyone was sensitive to the economy and to the needs of the teachers.”
Husk said that, all in all, she felt that all parties were heard in the negotiations, and that the results were favorable.
“Things went well,” she said.
With teacher contract negotiations moving slowly in Addison Central Supervisory Union (see story, Page 1A) and teachers in Winooski threatening a strike, O’Brien said the ANwSU negotiations resolved themselves quickly, moving the tentative contract into the ratification phase.
“We’re fortunate as a district that the process was completed as it was,” said O’Brien.
The last ANwSU teacher contract ran from 2006 to 2010. O’Brien said the tentative new one reflects a balance between economic struggles and costs of living for teachers.
“I think it matches the circumstances,” said O’Brien. “It’s reflective of the times.”
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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