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Three-year teachers' contract backed by school board

Published 9:03 am, Friday, December 21, 2012
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The Board of Education on Monday night approved a new, three-year teachers' contract that calls for no pay increases in the first year and raises of less than 1 percent in the second and third years.

The new contract for the Westport Education Association will run from July 1 to June 30, 2016. The union's current pact expires on June 30.

"These were very, very long negotiations," Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon said during the meeting. "These are tough fiscal times for the public, and rest assured that the board representatives had the taxpayers' best interests at heart, while at the same time the best interests of the kids."

The Westport Education Association ratified the new deal Monday, according to Landon.

Union officials declined immediate comment on the contract.

The new deal includes a wage freeze in the 2013-14 year, a general wage increase of 0.75 percent in the 2014-15 school year and a raise of 0.80 percent in 2015-16, according to a memo sent Monday by Landon to Board of Education members.

In the new contract, teachers' health-insurance plans will switch from a preferred-provider framework to health savings accounts, according to Landon's memo.

The new deal also calls for productivity increases for elementary school special-education teachers, Landon's memo said.

Education board members quickly moved Monday night to approve the new contract.

"These are very important negotiations for us," Mark Mathias said. "It helps us to No.1, I think, attract and retain high-quality teachers that we have in our town."

Negotiations on the new contract ran for several months, starting this past summer. The town's negotiating team for the new contract included Landon, Board of Education Vice Chairman Michael McGovern, former education board member Jim Marpe, Board of Finance member Tom Lasersohn and Representative Town Meeting Employee Compensation Committee Chairman Dick Lowenstein. McGovern replaced Marpe as a negotiator when Marpe stepped down from the education board last month to run for first selectman.

The Board of Education voted 6-0 to approve the new contract. The board's newest member, Jeannie Smith, who was sworn in Monday, abstained, because she was not serving on the board during the negotiations.

pschott@bcnnew.com; 203-255-4561, ext. 118; twitter.com/paulschott