Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Winchester voters turn down contracts for school staff

WINCHESTER — Voters here agreed to a slight budget increase but put their foot down when it came to giving raises to teachers and support staff.
The $11.2 million 2014-15 budget passed with 75 percent support Tuesday. Yet two contracts, one with the Winchester Teachers Association and one with the Winchester Support Staff Association, received only 46 percent and 48 percent approval, respectively.
The budget is up less than 1 percent from this year’s $11,086,540, but the amount to be raised from local taxes is up $413,298.
The two-year teachers contract would have cost $118,498 next school year and $63,285 in 2015-16, and the support staff contract would have cost $21,552.
Not only did voters turn down the collective bargaining agreements, but they also declined to allow the school board to call a special meeting to address those articles if they failed.
Winchester voters have been tough to sell on collective bargaining agreements in recent years. In 2012, a support staff contract failed, and last year, a one-year contract with the group received only 54 percent support.
Superintendent James M. Lewis said previously that the school board and budget committee members tried to get creative with job responsibilities to keep the budget from climbing even higher. For example, Lewis will take on the principal duties for the older students at the kindergarten-through-8th-grade Winchester School, and the district will advertise for an elementary school principal to replace Pamela Bigelow, who’s retiring at the end of this year.
The budget covers the expenses of Winchester School, and tuition to send older students to Keene High School.
An article to raise $25,000 for the Building Improvements Capital Reserve Fund passed with 56 percent, and an article to put up to $50,000 of any surplus money into a special education trust fund barely squeaked by once again, with 51 percent.
Of the town’s 2,482 registered voters, 677, or 27 percent, cast ballots Tuesday.
Trevor S. Croteau was re-elected to the school board with 460 votes. Also elected was Kevin Bazan, with 307 votes. Steven Thompson received 184.

No comments: