ANeSU officials, teachers continuing contract talks
BRISTOL — Representatives of Mount Abraham Union High School teachers and school board members came to the contract negotiations table last Thursday night following a quiet picket carried out by the teachers’ organization. The two sides left the meeting with only the promise of another meeting.
“We met for a couple of hours,” said Heather Parkhurst, the lead negotiator on behalf of the Addison Northeast Education Association. “We gave a decent proposal trying to move toward a settlement, but the board wasn’t moving very much. But (they) told us that they would like to meet again, and we’re hoping that they follow through on that.”
School board chairman Lanny Smith agreed that there were “differences of opinion,” but said that he hopes to reach a settlement before the end of December.
“I would like to have this resolved before the end of the year without a doubt,” he said.
Addison Northeast Supervisory Union teacher contracts expired last June.
Factors that are driving the rift between the board and the teachers in nailing down a new contract include differences over teacher salaries, automatic salary increases, and health insurance co-pays.
“Those are the three big ones, and then there are about 25 other smaller things,” Smith said.
All of the boards in the ANeSU are set to meet Monday to go over the differences before setting a time to meet again with the teachers.
Though teachers are willing to negotiate, according to Parkhurst, there are a lot of issues that will need to be resolved before a contract can be agreed upon.
“It’s mostly money issues, but there’s no particular focus,” she said. “There are working condition issues, economic issues and how-our-building-runs issues. It was a lot.”
Parkhurst and the other teachers, who had hoped to reach a settlement following Thursday’s quiet demonstration and negotiations, were disappointed with the outcome.
“We hoped for a long night and actually, it was a fairly short night,” Parkhurst said. “We really were hoping that things would be settled last night. We’re making plans for our next steps and hope the board will come back ready to negotiate. We just want to be treated as professionals.”
Tamara Hilmes is at [email protected].