By JEREMY BLACKMAN
(Published in print: Sunday, March 9, 2014)
Pembroke voters overwhelmingly passed a three-year teachers’ contract yesterday, one year after narrowly defeating a similar proposal that called for salary increases spread out over a shorter period.
Under the new contract, teachers will receive a 4 percent increase in the coming year and 2½ percent increases in each of the following two years. The changes will add $394,099 to the coming budget, and just more than $250,000 to each of the budgets through 2017.
Only a handful of the few hundred residents who attended yesterday’s annual meeting at Pembroke Academy voted against the contract. That was a marked shift from last year, when 90 of 165 attendees opposed it.
Tom Serafin, who chairs the school board and who led contract negotiations, said the new draft would lessen the burden on taxpayers, while ensuring that salaries in the district are competitive with those in neighboring municipalities.
“We think this is an extremely fair, extremely responsible collective bargaining agreement,” Serafin said. “Frankly, the board would love to give them more. There is no more valuable asset than our teachers.”
Before the vote, resident Nathalie Peterson said she would consider sending her children to private school if voters again refused to align teachers’ salaries with those in surrounding towns, including Chichester and Allenstown.
“That’s fine,” Peterson said. “But I’d rather put the money back into our community. Support our teachers, that are here, that have been here for a while, and attract great new teachers.”
Residents at the meeting also passed a $24.6 million operating budget for the coming school year. The figure was backed by the school board, but it was about $74,000 more than the budget committee recommended. It represents a 1.4 percent drop from the current budget.
All other articles – including a request to use $113,400 of the capital reserve fund on new flooring, doors and bleachers, and a request to place any surplus cash at the end of the year into technology and special education funds – passed without dispute.
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, email@example.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)