Dover NH teachers work to reign in contract stalemate

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Members of the Dover Teachers Union will work to contract for the next two weeks as contract talks reach an impasse.

At issue is a clause enacted in the current agreement by the Board of Education that would stop a salary increase for the current academic year, the third year of the agreement. The union wants the pay increase still in effect, but the board stands by its decision, so a stalemate has been declared.

Dover School District Superintendent William Harbron told Seacoast Current the two sides agreed to work with a mediator and have a session scheduled for Friday.

“The District wants our teachers to be fairly compensated for their work. But the District has an obligation to consider the economic realities facing the Dover community,” Harbron said in an email. “The budget tax cap, a $2 million cut in public education assistance, and inflationary increases in operating costs place restrictions on what the district can responsibly offer in terms of salary increases. “

He said the board is aware of the contributions teachers make to students’ lives and the challenges they face and overcome during the pandemic.

The hope of bringing the two parties together

The union will show its displeasure with the state of negotiations by working its contractual hours for the next two weeks. This generally means that the people covered by a contract will work according to its specifications and will not work overtime or work.

“Teachers will no longer volunteer for clubs, sports, events and other extracurricular programs for which they are not paid. Additionally, teacher communications will be limited to contracted hours only,” the union wrote. .a post titled “Dover Teachers Take Action.”

“The hope is that with these actions, the school board can join the negotiating team in asking the city to support the previously negotiated contract which included a 2% cost of living adjustment. In a year that has seen record inflation, the union believes this is a reasonable request,” the union said in its message.

Harbron said the contractual hours are the most important of the day and he is confident that the teachers at Dover will provide quality teaching to students.

“There are extracurricular activities in the spring such as spring sports. Teachers involved in these programs have additional contracts,” Harbron said.

Some parents fear teachers not meeting with clubs will be “heartbreaking” for students emerging from the pandemic.

Proposals rejected by the union

Harbron said the district made an initial proposal that was rejected that included a starting salary increase for new teachers and a pay raise for seasoned teachers currently ineligible for a pay raise. The result of this proposal is that all teachers would receive a salary increase of approximately 3.9%.

The union, in its message, stated that a step increase is not an increase in the cost of living.

The district’s most recent proposal offers all teachers a 2% cost-of-living increase and an echelon increase of approximately 3.9% for all teachers except those in the echelon. superior, according to the superintendent.

“In addition, the District has offered to conduct a salary study prior to the next round of negotiations, with the goal of determining what adjustments, if any, are necessary to maintain the District’s competitiveness in the salary market,” said said Harbron.

The city council took that approach with city employees and said it would fund a school district salary study, according to Harbron.

Contact journalist Dan Alexander at [email protected] or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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