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May 16. 2014 12:53AM

Manchester school district, teachers' union reach tentative deal

MANCHESTER — School district officials and teachers’ union representatives have reached an agreement on a tentative contract that is to be voted on by rank-and-file members next week.

The teachers, who make up the largest union in the city, have been working without a contract since last July, after several rounds of negotiations failed to yield agreements.

Mayor Ted Gatsas said he would not discuss the terms of the agreement until the members of the teachers union, the Manchester Education Association, have a chance to review and vote on it.

“We’ve been working on it probably the last four to five months and strenuously for the past three weeks,” he said, adding, “I would hope it would move forward.”

Gatsas took over negotiations with the teachers union last year, after a special school board committee was unable to reach an agreement.

The MEA was the only district employee union that rebuffed contracts pushed by the school board committee last year that raised health care premium contribution rates from the single digits to 15 to 20 percent, while offering yearly salary increases of 2.17 percent — equal to last year’s tax cap.

In working without a contract, the teachers continue to enjoy low premiums, but their salaries are frozen.

Should the contract be approved, the mayor and aldermen will have to grapple with new calculations for the district’s 2015 budget, which must be finalized in about a month. Teachers’ pay and benefits make up a large share of the budget.

MEA President Ben Dick did not return a call for comment Thursday.

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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