By APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- A new contract for Londonderry’s school support staff could mean long-term savings for the struggling school district, school officials said on Tuesday night.
During the district’s final budget workshop on Dec. 21, the Londonderry School Board voted unanimously to place the item on this spring’s ballot.
School Board member Steve Young said the board had met with members of its support staff union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1801, for approximately 25 hours over recent weeks.
Young said the three-year contract, if approved by voters this March, would cost the district an estimated $15,585 in the initial year; $103,669 during the second year; and $106,261 during the third year.
Since the union’s current contract is evergreened, Young noted that had an agreement not been reached, union employees would stand to receive a 1.67 percent pay increase in the coming fiscal year.
Only the first year’s costs will appear on the spring ballot: School Board member Ron Campo noted that due to a new state law, the district is no longer permitted to place estimated costs projected in coming years on municipal ballots.
“Once a contract is evergreened, whether you pass contract or not, you get the increase,” Young noted. “One of the negotiations we’ve done with this is changed this contract so by year three we’d be completely out of the step system: meaning we’d just be looking at a cost-of-living increase.” As part of the proposed agreement, a 50-cent-per-hour premium for high school staff working with special education students would be eliminated.
“This will save us considerable amounts of money,” Young said.
The drafted agreement also dictates its employees will receive professional reviews of any employment opportunities that arise. As it stands now, staff members are required to sit down and go through the interview process when in-house opportunities are presented.
Additionally, union members wishing to take personal days on Mondays or Fridays would be required to provide a written explanation to the school district.
“This will cut down on staff absences those days,” Young said.
Wanting to make sure temporary employees are likewise subject to union dues, union officials have also added a clause subjecting all employees working at least 90 days per given school year be required to pay union dues.
“These changes get us out of an evergreen situation where we would have to pay salary increases,” Young said. “It allows us to manage our personal days better so they aren’t, in administration’s opinion, being abused.”
A public hearing on the school budget will take place Jan. 13, 7 p.m., at Town Hall.