Charlotte School Board discusses teacher negotiations

By Gail Callahan

During last week’s Charlotte School Board meeting commissioners discussed, in executive session, how the latest round of teacher contract negotiations were shaping up.

To hear officials from Chittenden South Supervisory Union offices tell it, the Board took no action after coming out of its secret session. Former School Commissioner Edorah Frazer acted as representative for the panel and remained in that role this spring after she left the group. Erik Beal assumed the role, and when reached at his Charlotte home earlier this week, he directed all inquiries about the state of negotiations to Chair Kristin Wright. As of Tuesday afternoon Wright didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Because of the unsettled economy, coupled with the fact that 35 school spending plans failed statewide at Town Meeting, many districts are approaching contract negotiations with a wary eye. The spending plan for 2014-15 narrowly won voter approval, and last year’s proposal won acceptance from voters on the second try. In Charlotte, contract talks started last Oct. 22.

The current contract expires June 30 and a Fact-Finder’s Report was received by the Supervisory Union in mid-June, and will become public June 28. Currently, the school has 39.7 FTE on its payroll. No work disruption is expected. Ira Lobel, a mediator, was brought on to facilitate talks, smoothing out sticking points.

In the past, the rising cost of teacher salaries stalled talks.

Since 1970 in Vermont, only 16 contracts have been imposed on teachers, according to the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association, which represents about 13,000 teachers.