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School district reaches contract agreement with Education Association

June 25, 2014 | Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM – At the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee’s June 17 meeting, it was announced that a new contractual agreement between the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District (HWRSD) and the teachers union, the Hampden-Wilbraham Education Association, had been struck.

The three-year contract will be in effect for fiscal years 2015 to 2017.

“The agreement helps the district achieve important systemic fiscal goals while ensuring that HWRSD can attract and retain top-notch teachers,” Peter Salerno, chair of the Negotiations Subcommittee, said. “This three-year contact will provide the district with annual savings that can be directed to the educational needs of our students.”

According to the agreement, HWRSD teachers would receive no pay increase in fiscal year 2015 and 2 ½ percent increases in each of the next two fiscal years.

With no raises for the upcoming school year, the district avoided cuts in addition to the ones made in the initial budgeting process. Nearly nine full time equivalent (FTE) teaching positions, 2.5 FTE counseling positions and nine FTE paraprofessional positions were cut as part of an effort to close a $1.2 million gap. Tuition for the preschool program offered at Minnechaug Regional High School was also increased.

In addition to addressing salary matters, the contract requires all Unit A teachers take a one and a half day unpaid furlough day during the 2014-2015 school year and one furlough day during 2015-2016, which will result in an estimated savings of $270,000 for the district.

The new contract also reorganizes the step salary schedule. A new 18-step schedule will replace the previous 15-step one with the intention of phasing out severance packages, while introducing a new longevity agreement.

HWRSD teachers will maintain their current health care through the Scantic Valley Regional Health Trust.

In a press release, HWRSD Superintendent M. Martin O’Shea lauded the union’s “commitment to a fair process that appropriately balanced the needs of the district with the interests of HWRSD teachers.” He was not available for further comment as of press time.

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