December 13, 2018
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Rockland-area school district ends two-year teacher contract impasse

Stephen Betts | BDN
Stephen Betts | BDN
The memorial at Oceanside High School in Rockland is to "honor those who have walked these halls" of the school building. RSU 13 has ended a two-year teacher contract impasse.

A years-long contract stalemate for Rockland-area schools has ended.

The Regional School Unit 13 board of directors and the bargaining units for Seacoast Education Association ― which represents teachers and support staff in the five-town district ― each voted last week to ratify new contract terms.

Teachers in the district had been working for nearly two years without contracts, with their last contract expiring in August 2016. Contracts for the district’s support staff expired in June 2015, making this their third year without a contract.

“I just never ever, want to get this point again where [a new contract] gets so far from when a contract expired,” RSU 13 Board Chairman Loren Andrews said.

RSU 13 includes Rockland, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Owls Head and Cushing.

Compensation and health benefits were the main points of contention causing the stalemate between the district and teachers.

In the new contracts pay scales have been increased. For the current academic year, teachers with a bachelor’s degree will earn $37,246. At the top of the scale, teaches with more than a master’s degree and 19 years of experience can earn $65,646.

For the 2018-2019 year, that scale will increase to $39,425 at the low end and $67,625 on the high end.

According to the lapsed contract that the district had been operating with while a new contract was being negotiated, the salary scale for teachers was $36,250 to $63,889.

For the remainder of the school year, the educational technicians pay-scale will increase to a range of $12.50 to $19 per hour, based on experience.

Under the new contracts, the district will pay for 100 percent of employee health insurance premiums. For family plans, the district will cover 70 percent of the difference between a single and family policy.

While newly ratified, the agreed-upon contracts will expire relatively soon, because they retroactively covered the years staff went without contracts. The teacher contracts will expire in August 2019 and the support staff contracts will expire at the end of this June.

Andrews said the district will begin negotiations with support staff soon in order to get a new contract in place for July 1.

Andrews, who is seeking re-election to the school board this month, said he wants to help staff feel secure in their jobs by trying to avoid what the district endured for the last two to three years.

“I’m really happy that we have concluded that [stalemate] because I think people can now feel really confident in their jobs,” he said.

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