Adams-Cheshire District Looks Toward Union NegotiationsBy Dan Gigliotti
11:22PM / Monday, November 25, 2013
A subcommittee will focus on negotiations with teachers, secretaries, custodians and nurses, as its collective bargaining agreements expire in June 2014.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — A subcommittee of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee met at Hoosac Valley High School on Monday to take a preliminary look toward issues expected to arise during collective bargaining negotiations.
The collective bargaining agreements between the school district and four of the six school employee unions — teachers, custodians, secretaries and nurses — expires in 2014.
Unlike in the past, the subcommittee — consisting of School Committee members Paul Butler, Stephen Vigna and Regina Hill — agreed it will be most beneficial for everyone involved to treat the negotiations of all four groups collaboratively, if possible.
"I know it doesn't go with the true definition of collaborative, but I think it would be the best way to do it," Superintendent of School Kristen Gordon said.
Gordon said the bulk of the negotiations may simply require rewording of the language written in the current collective bargaining agreement.
With regard to Adams-Cheshire Teachers Association, the subcommittee projects talks to be centered on salary and health insurance, along with teacher evaluations and sick banks. The subcommittee may also reconsider the practicality of three-hour leaves of absences amidst work days and its interpretation of periods of bereavement.
Teachers are allowed to take up to seven consecutive paid days off following the death of a spouse or child; and up to five days for extended family members, including siblings, grandparents and children and stepparents and stepchildren, according to the current CBA. It will be reviewed whether or not this period should be exclusive to work days.
In past years, the superintendent would lay the groundwork for negotiations with custodians and bring the draft to the attention of the committee, according to Butler, who is chairman of the School Committee. Topics such as vacation time typically follow similar guidelines as those written for teachers. Lead custodians are often distinguished from the lot, as they are integral to school security and some of the first lines of contact with law enforcement.
The subcommittee expressed concerns with the number of available nurses, as Gordon provided an anecdotal reference to a situation in which a short nursing staff nearly led to a cancellation of school.
Butler expects a letter request the enacting of negotiations with the School Committee to be submitted by a representative of the teacher's union sometime soon, based on past experience.
Though there is no deadline for planning negotiations, the collective bargaining agreement between the aforementioned groups of employees and the school district expires on June 30, 2013, the final day of fiscal 2014.
"We would be a very successful team, if we could have it done," Gordon said.