EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 5, 2013

Timberlane teachers' contract up for vote

By Alex Lippa

---- — PLAISTOW — Timberlane superintendent Earl Metzler hopes the hard work between the School Board and the teachers union will pay dividends at Town Meeting.

Timberlane School District voters will vote on a three-year collective bargaining agreement for the Timberlane Teachers’ Association, which will cost the town $398,203 in the first year.

“We want to invest in the people teaching our kids,” Metzler said. “It’s very important to us and we hope it passes overwhelmingly.”

Year two of the agreement will cost $718,281 and year three costs $684,321. The bump in the final two years is due to a change in the teachers’ health plans.

The district also is asking voters to approve a $64.4 million budget. Voters added $150,000 to the budget at last month’s deliberative session in hopes of improving the school’s athletic facilities.

“I think it’s important that we respect the process where people are able to make changes to the budget and honor what is added in the spirit of what is intended,” Metzler said.

With the addition, the proposed budget is now $3,657 more than the default budget.

“When they are that close, other than sending a message, I’m not sure why people would choose to go back to the default budget,” Metzler said.

He also noted a fund balance retention option which would come from the previous year’s budget surplus.

“This could offset the tax rate in regards to initial costs,” Metzler said.

The funds could also be used as a revenue source in case of emergencies

Voters also will be asked to place $200,000 from the surplus into the school’s building construction capital reserve fund.

Budget Committee member Donna Green proposed a citizens petition which would allow voters to weigh in on the School Administrative Unit budget.

There are no contested School Board or Budget Committee races. Incumbent Nancy Steenson of Danville, Rick Blair of Plaistow and Kelly Ward of Sandown are seeking the three open three-year terms on the School Board.

No one filed for five open spots on the Budget Committee.