‘Hard freeze’ on teacher salaries in Oysterponds

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07/13/2013 8:00 AM |
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Oysterponds school officials have cancelled Tuesday's runoff election.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Oysterponds teachers have a new contract in place retroactive to July 2012.

It’s been close to a year, but teachers at the Oysterponds School are no longer without a contract.

The school board and the district’s teachers union have approved a new two-year pact, an agreement made nearly a year after the last one expired.

Superintendent Richard Malone confirmed that on July 2 the school board unanimously approved the two-year agreement, retroactive to July 1, 2012. The first year covers the just completed school year, during which the teachers received a one-time cash payment of $4,500 in addition to any step increases, said Mr. Malone.

The coming school year includes a one-year “hard freeze” on teacher salaries, which will be held flat with no step increases or annual raises, the superintendent added.

As a result of the salary freeze, coupled with recent layoffs and staff reductions, the district will save about $243,000, Mr. Malone said.

Part of the settlement includes reinstating a teacher laid off last month, he said. Mr. Malone said the district is in the process of reinstating one teacher for 2013-14 school year.

In June the school board voted to lay off first-grade teacher Jenny Schoenstein, second-grade teacher Rebecca Cartselos, fifth-grade teacher Brittany Knote and Kathy Syron, the district’s first pre-kindergarten teacher, who started in September.

In addition to the layoffs, the board voted to reduce the physical education, music and art teacher positions from full-time to part-time. The changes were included in the school budget voters approved in May.

The teachers’ two-year contract covers the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. Mr. Malone said negotiations are expected to begin this fall to replace the newest agreement set to expire at the end of June 2014.

Other compromises reached include $4,500 stipends for all of the district’s 2012-13 teachers and shortening the 2013-14 school calendar by one day, totaling 185 days. “The district is very pleased,” Mr. Malone said about the negotiation’s closure. “It’s going to help everyone in the school move forward.”

Teacher union president Amy Schill wasn’t immediately available for comment.

In other district news, the school board’s newest members, Tom Stevenson and Alison Lyne, both of Orient, were sworn-in at last Tuesday’s reorganization meeting. Incumbent Dorothy-Dean Thomas was selected to serve as board president for the second year. Janice Caufield was also reelected to serve a second year as board vice president.

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