EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

February 8, 2014

No changes made at Windham school session

Windham deliberative

WINDHAM — The School Board last night appealed to voters to approve a teacher contract at Town Meeting.

“We’d like to see that move forward and pass,” School Board member Jerome Rekart said.

About 120 people attended the school deliberative session.

First-year costs for the three-year deal, affecting about 200 teachers, are estimated at $488,269.

Teachers have worked without a new contract for three years, Rekart said.

The pact allows them to recover some step increases they have lost out on in the past three years in exchange for insurance concessions.

Voters will act on the budget at Town Meeting on March 11.

Besides the contract, voters also will consider a $45.7 million budget.

The budget would increase spending about 1.64 percent.

That would amount to about 35 cents on the tax rate or about $123 for the bill on a home valued at $350,000.

The teacher contract and other warrant articles would add to the tax bill.

“If everything were to pass, it would be 62 cents on the tax rate,” School Board member Stephanie Wimmer said.

Resident Margaret Case asked voters to approve the budget.

“I’m fully in support of the budget,” Case said.

She praised administrators and the School Board for what she described as “an excellent job” in preparing the budget and explaining it to residents.

“I hope people go out and have a positive vote,” she said.

Resident Bob Coole, a candidate for the School Board, acknowledged he had differences with the budget, but still thought voters should approve it.

Coole credited the School Board and administrators with doing a lot to get the budget “down to something we can afford.”

Resident Bruce Anderson, a former School Board member, said he favored the budget.

“What’s being proposed tonight is very appropriate,” he said.

Anderson supported the board’s plan to reform the dean system so teacher supervisors are out of the union.

Since salaries account for about 70 percent of the budget, the teacher evaluation system is important, Anderson said.

“I believe it gives us more control of almost $30 million,” he said.

At the end of the session, voters gave a standing ovation to departing School Board members Wimmer and Michelle Farrell.

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