Long time in coming, RSU 73 settles Education Association contract

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LIVERMORE FALLS — The Regional School Unit 73 board unanimously voted Thursday night for approval of a new, three-year contract with the RSU 73 Education Association.

The agreement was nearly four years in the making. The previous contract expired in school year 2011-12.

Superintendent Kenneth Healey said the major components are a 2 percent salary increase for school year 2014-15, a 1.5 percent increase for 2015-16 and a 1.5 percent hike for 2016-17.

Also, the employee share of health care premiums remained at 15 percent for 2014-15 and 2015-16. That amount increased to 16 percent for 2016-17.

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Employees will receive retroactive salary hikes for 2014-15 in November following completion of the annual audit.

“Both sides worked cooperatively together,” Healey said.

Board Chairwoman Denise Rodzen added, “We worked long and hard. There was a lot of movement and compromise on both sides.”

RSU 73 Education Association President Rob Taylor said in a written statement that the new contract negotiations were a long and difficult process with negotiations between the board, the Association, and neutral experts.

“The RSU 73 Education Association is glad to finally have a consolidated contract that treats all its members equitably. In approving this contract, teachers have made significant financial sacrifices to help the district provide and expand quality programs for our students and (to) promote financial stability for our communities in the future,” he wrote. “This contract settlement will allow everyone in the RSU to move forward and focus on what we do best: educating young people.”

The neighboring school districts of the Jay School Department and RSU 36 in Livermore Falls merged in 2011. Contract negotiations began prior to the merger.

The new contract covers the period from Sept. 1, 2014, through Aug. 31, 2017.

Negotiations were sometimes contentious, with dozens of members of the RSU 73 Education Association sometimes carrying placards in support of settling the contract attending school board meetings.

A memorandum of agreement was approved a couple of months ago that brought the pay scale for Livermore Elementary School teachers in line with the salaries paid to teachers working in the district’s other three schools that are located in Jay.

The settlement also comes following about three months of Healey assuming the position of superintendent of the district.

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