The School Committee and the Andover Education Association have signed a tentative agreement which reflects resolution on all open contractual issues between the two parties with one exception: the work schedule for teachers at Andover High School.
To bring this single issue to resolution, a process called Fact Finding is now underway. Last Monday, April 23rd, a hearing was held before an independent Fact Finder appointed by the Division of Labor Relations. At this hearing, both the School Committee and the Andover Education Association had an opportunity to present grounds for their positions on the teaching schedule at Andover High School. On May 15th, the Fact Finder will issue a report with her findings, and the two parties will have an opportunity to negotiate over that report for a period of thirty days.
It is important to note two things: first, the schedule for students at Andover High School will not change next year--the number of blocks, the length of blocks, the number of offerings there are and the number of courses students can choose will not be impacted by fact finding. The one issue that is being addressed through the fact finding process is how many classes high school teachers will teach each semester. Second, while the process of fact finding continues, there is nothing that prevents the two sides from coming to agreement at any time, and we very much hope that we are able to do so.
The FY13 school budget being presented to you this evening had to be built while the process of negotiations was ongoing. This budget therefore incorporates reductions of approximately $500,000 based upon a change to the teacher’s work schedule at Andover High School. If there is no change to the teacher’s work schedule, these budget reductions would need to be found elsewhere in the school budget, and the impacts would be felt at other levels of the school system. As I said earlier, the Fact Finding process regarding the high school teaching schedule is underway, and we do expect resolution in the near future.
Change is always a challenge--and the difficult nature of these contract negotiations seems to have lead to some misconceptions about the school budget we present tonight. The reality is that the FY13 budget represents the largest single-year increase to the school budget in many years. It reflects no reduction in the level of services we will offer our students--rather, it increases the total number of our staff, it makes targeted investments in Strategic Plan initiatives at all levels, it significantly increases professional development funding for teachers, and it further expands our in-district special education programming. In addition, approval of Warrant Article 22 will allow us to make a major, district-wide investment in digital learning, enhancing the educational experience and achievement opportunities for all students. We see this school budget as a step forward for our district, and we appreciate the support we have received from the other boards and from the community.
At this time I’d like to turn the microphone over to Dr. McGrath, who will provide a more detailed explanation of the FY13 school budget.