December 08. 2013 9:25PM

Nashua aldermen set to vote on contract for teachers

Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA — A new three-year contract for Nashua teachers is expected to pass two final hurdles this week.

The Board of Aldermen is scheduled to vote on the contract Tuesday night, and Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, who has already said she supports the new agreement, must approve it to make it official.

The contract, which is retroactive to Sept. 1 of this year was already approved unanimously by the Budget Review Committee. Board of Education member Kimberly Muise attended that meeting and made the case for the new agreement.

“The district is in a critical state and teachers’ jobs are changing and evolving,” said Muise. “Teachers are being asked to change teaching methods and curriculum.”

Muise also pointed out that teachers are being asked to use new “data-driven” techniques to address the needs of individual students. They are also working to incorporate a new grading system based on specific student competencies in each subject and will be working under a new evaluation system for teachers.

“The point is collaboration between administrators and teachers is needed to move the district forward, and they deserve compensation,” said Muise.

Under the new deal, salaries will increase 2 percent during the first year, 2.65 percent the second year and 3.1 percent during the final year.

More steps have been added to the teachers’ salary schedule in order make pay more equitable among the more than 1,000 teachers who bring different credentials and experience to the job.

Although the annual cost of base salaries is projected to rise from $56.7 million to $57.4 million over the course of the contract, negotiators on both sides of the table have said those figures can be misleading. Not all teachers who retire or resign receive a severance package, and the projections do not account for unpaid leaves of absence, which in some cases extend up to a year.

BOE chairman Robert Hallowell told the Budget Review Committee that the Teachers Union made several significant concessions, including agreeing to cap retirement pay at 40 percent of a teacher’s annual salary.

During the third year of the contract, the city will take over the dental plan which, in the past, has been administered by the union. There will be no change in the coverage, and Hallowell said there is a potential savings in that move.