Mediator enlisted to solve ANWSD contract impasse

VERGENNES — The Addison Northwest School District and the Addison Northwest Support Staff Association are hoping that a neutral mediator will help them cross the finish line in their contract negotiations.
The two sides have met seven times since October, but disagreement remains over two issues: salaries and the conditions surrounding the use of personal leave time, according to a press release issued late last week by ANWSD Superintendent Sheila Soule.
ANWSD has 54 support staff, including paraeducator, custodian, food service and secretarial positions. They represent about 26% of total ANWSD staff.
The ANWSD board’s latest offer to union workers was a pay increase of 50 cents per hour, but the union was seeking an increase of $1, Soule explained.
The parties have officially declared an “impasse in their collective bargaining negotiations” or “a recognition that third party assistance will be helpful in moving the negotiations forward,” Soule said.
The impasse comes on the heels of an announcement by the state of Vermont that ANWSD now has fewer equalized pupils than was previously thought — which will translate into less state education funding for the district, and higher taxes for ANWSD residents.
In its 2019–20 annual report, ANWSD had estimated an actual union tax rate increase of $0.0378 per $100 of property value.
After figuring in the new numbers from the state, including the loss of nearly six equalized pupils, the current estimate is $0.0545 per $100 of property value.
ANWSD officials cautioned that that number was also likely to change.
If the school board and the union fail to reach an agreement with the help of a mediator, then a “fact-finding process” will begin, which could take up to 60 days.
“Board representatives are eager to meet with the mediator and union representatives and remain hopeful that an agreeable contract can be finalized before the end of the school year,” Soule said in the press release.
Negotiations for a successor contract will begin in the fall.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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