FARMINGTON — The Regional School Unit 9 Board of Directors approved the 2020-2023 contracts for professional staff in the district Tuesday, June 8. The motion, passed unanimously by the board, followed an extended executive session with the teacher’s bargaining unit.

Contract negotiations between the district and the district’s teacher’s association, the Mt. Blue Education Association, began in January 2020, were disrupted by the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and resumed in late Spring 2020. Teachers and professional staff have been working without contracts after they expired in last August.

Following the start of the 2020-21 school year, the Mt. Blue Education Association disputed with the board over salary raises. The district faced further funding loss that could affect teacher salaries, and 91.3% of participating teachers and staff in the district voted they had no confidence in former Superintendent Tina Meserve, who then resigned.

In October, seven RSU 9 teachers voiced their concerns over the expired contracts and ongoing negotiations. The Franklin Journal’s Andrea Swiedom reported, “(teachers) expressed issues with a potential decrease in retirement, overworking due to the challenges of hybrid teaching and pandemic-related safety concerns.”

Even students said they felt the effects of teachers working without a contract.

In February, still without contracts, Mt. Blue Education Association President Doug Hodum said the association and the board would “move forward (on negotiations) in a more solutions-based approach.”

The terms of the approved contract were not disclosed at this time.

The Maine Education Association’s 2019 salary guide stated that teachers in RSU 9 were paid $34,900 in their first year of teaching with a bachelor’s degree, $36,900 in their first year of teaching with a master’s degree, $40,451 in their tenth year of teaching with a bachelor’s degree and $42,466 in their tenth year of teaching with a master’s degree.

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