Unfortunately, the union negotiating team spent the entire session in caucus, did not make or respond to any proposals, and did not communicate with the members of the School Committee bargaining team in any way. After more than two hours, the mediator ended the session, and we are now awaiting word on next steps.
The School Committee stands ready to settle a contract that is fair to teachers, good for students, and sustainable by the community, and we remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached in the immediate future. Meanwhile, we would like the Andover community to know the primary tenets of what we are proposing in mediation:
1) High School: The School Committee is seeking a change to the high school schedule, the details of which would be determined by a joint committee of teachers and administrators. Our goal is to increase the flexibility of the current block system so that we can provide better continuity in subject areas such as English, social studies, and world languages. To this end, we have proposed increasing the amount of time teachers spend instructing students within the current work day. We believe these changes will improve the academic experience and achievement of our students, while reducing costs at the same time.
2) Middle Schools: At the middle schools, we continue to strongly support the continuation of the highly successful middle school team model. Our aim is to provide both team and individual teacher planning time that can be scheduled more flexibly. This increased flexibility would enable our middle schools to design schedules that are more responsive to student needs. The total amount of both team and individual planning time would remain unchanged.
3) Elementary Schools: No changes to current planning time are intended.
4) Professional Development: The School Committee wants to improve our professional development program by requiring teachers to earn a portion of their continuing education credits by enrolling in graduate level courses at an accredited academic institution and by requiring that internal continuing education courses will tie to the district Strategic Plan, guarantee relevance and rigor, and--most importantly--enhance the academic experience of our students.
5) Cost of Living Increase: In consideration of these changes in working conditions, the School Committee has proposed a four-year agreement and a 5% total cost-of-living increase in their salaries over the four-year agreement.
The School Committee has been and is prepared to approve an agreement reached in mediation with the above conditions at its core. We appreciate the patience and support of the entire Andover community during these very difficult negotiations. We believe these changes in working conditions are critical to reaching an agreement that is fair, sustainable, and in the best interest of our students.
Andover School Committee
Annie Gilbert, Chair
Paula Colby-Clements, Vice Chair