FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors have approved contracts with four staff groups that give an overall 2.5 percent increase in wages, Superintendent Tom Ward said Oct. 14.

All bargaining units approved the agreements.

The board voted 10-2 on Oct. 13 to accept the recommendations of the board’s Contract Resolution Committee, Ward said. Directors Jennifer Pooler of New Sharon and Keith Swett of Wilton opposed. 

Directors Nancy Crosby of Weld, Cheriann Harris of Wilton and Ryan Morgan of Farmington were absent. Director Ross Clair of Chesterville left the meeting prior to the vote.

“It was quite a challenge,” Ward said. “We had put 2.5 percent in the budget to work with.”

The contracts were factored so they do not all come due at the same time as they did this year, Ward said.

The agreements are retroactive.

The board entered into a two-year contract with teachers effective from Sept. 1, 2015, to Aug. 30, 2017.

An agreement with support staff runs from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2018. Support staff includes bus drivers, custodians, secretaries, educational technicians and maintenance, Ward said.

The administrative contract agreement is two years and includes principals, assistant principals and directors of programs. It is effective from July 1, 2015, to Aug. 30, 2017.

The “at-will” group’s contract is for one year. That group includes the business manager, social workers, psychologists, superintendent, assistant superintendent, food service workers, technology workers and volunteer and health coordinators.

Ward said he chose to have the same salary of $122,000, which he was given when hired July 1, 2013.

“I feel my salary is competitive and I want money to go to help other employees to work toward a competitive contract,” Ward said.

Some positions have competitive wages but most are not competitive, and it will take several contracts to get them competitive, he said.

“We recognize we can’t do it all at once,” he said. “We feel this heads us in the right direction.”

The school board wants to slow down the revolving door when people are trained in RSU 9 and leave for better pay and benefits elsewhere, he said.

“The hard part is we put a great deal of money into training and education and it goes right out the door with them,” Ward said.

Agreements also factor in adjustments to the people who are furthest behind.

In the teachers bargaining unit from years “zero to five are competitive but from that point on, we are not competitive,” he said.

“There is not a single group that isn’t behind and we know we can’t do it all at once and people know that, too,” he said.

The increases range from zero percent for some to 4 percent for others, but the average is 2.5 percent, Ward said.

School board negotiators are also working toward the district paying 75 percent of health insurance and employees 25 percent.

Some employees are paying 40 percent and the district 60 percent but that will gradually change, Ward said.

In the teachers contract, the district pays 79.5 percent of the insurance and the teachers pay 20.5 percent, he said.

“We held off on that one because we are so far behind in salaries for teachers,” Ward said. “We left it at 79.5 percent because there were so many other things to deal with. We stayed within budget and it is going to be very slow to get to a point where our bargaining units are competitive.”

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