AUBURN — Tom Kendall, chairman of the School Committee, said Thursday that many of the complaints or statements from teachers to the committee Wednesday night “were not entirely factual nor based on complete information.”
Teachers filled the meeting room at Auburn Hall on Wednesday night to voice concerns about their working conditions, lack of a labor contract, education initiatives in the schools and not being respected or free to share their opinions.
A recent teacher survey showed a majority didn’t feel respected and that the School Department was headed in the wrong direction when it comes to programs.
Teachers said healing could start with a labor contract.
On Thursday, Kendall disagreed with much of what they said, including the labor contract.
The committee “has repeatedly requested the Auburn Education Association return to the bargaining table to complete negotiations for a new contract,” Kendall said.
“They have refused to sit with us since last fall, which is so unfortunate for the district and the teachers. It is certainly ironic that the AEA has taken action with the Maine Labor Relations Board that will ultimately require them to sit down with us.” 
Problems teachers raised with new teaching methods Wednesday included customized learning, new teacher evaluations and students using iPads instead of laptop computers.
The new initiatives the district is implementing are “completely research-based and best practice,” Kendall said. “The performance of the district with regard to student outcomes is below our and the community’s expectations. Change is necessary to meet the demands of a 21st-century education. That change is difficult was reflected in the comments last night.”
Kendall said there is progress in Auburn schools in customized learning in order to meet individualized needs.
Responding to teachers’ concerns about a lack of support and training, Kendall said Auburn schools do offer support for teachers through workshops, professional development, video resources, instructional coaches and peer interaction.
“It is to be expected that some adapt more quickly to change than others,” he said Thursday. “But make no mistake — we are committed to improving student outcomes.”
Both sides were working on a 2015-18 labor contracts when talks broke down. The union filed a complaint with the labor board in February, saying the school committee broke labor laws.
The School Committee’s lawyer countered that no labor laws were broken and there was never complete agreement during negotiations.

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