Updated to include comments by Haverhill Education Association President Joseph Cunha.
A proposal by leaders in the Haverhill Public Schools to make up snow days taken due to the recent weather during February and April vacation weeks was rejected by the local teacher’s union leadership, according to Haverhill School Committee President Scott Wood.
Wood told WHAV no agreement was reached with union leaders during a Wednesday meeting with members of the negotiation subcommittee. Wood called Superintendent James F. Scully’s proposal to hold classes on vacation Tuesdays and Wednesdays and a half-day on Good Friday “a fair plan.”
“We were pretty open on both of the vacation weeks on which two days to give off. We were also flexible in if staff had prior vacations planned that we would give them excused absences, we wouldn’t hold them harmless for that. And neither would we hold any kids harmless that had parents planned a vacation,” Wood said.
Haverhill Education Association President Joseph Cunha told WHAV action by school Superintendent James F. Scully is premature.
“They can call four more snow days and we’re still ok, because the law says you go until June 30 to get your 180 days in. If you can’t make your 180 days by June 30, then you have to do something,” Cunha said. Instead of interfering with next week’s vacation, he argued, the schools can use April vacation days, Saturdays, holidays and Good Friday remain options for makeup days.
Current weather patterns, Cunha said, could cause snow days next week anyway. For more, see “Teachers Say February Vacation Changes Unfair, Premature.”
Wood said there was positive feedback to the proposal.
“The teachers that I heard back from liked the plan and so did the parents. I think, unfortunately, this isn’t 99 percent of the teachers. This is the leadership of the union,” Wood said.
Wood said he was disappointed with the union leadership.
“The response that we got was basically one of refusing to work with us and even try to meet us half way. The suggestion to send children to school on Memorial Day was disgraceful too, and quite frankly, offesnsive to anybody that’s ever served this country in any capacity,” Wood said.
According to Wood, other options, including Saturday classes, are limited.
“The only other options without them agreeing to the vacations, which they didn’t agree to, were Saturdays. Quite frankly, that’s the only thing the school committee has under their jurisdiction, because of contractual language, that they can do without the approval. But that, we just felt, wasn’t very good as far as student learning goes. Possibly not even meeting the requirements of getting enough kids there to have the day count,” Wood said.
Further discussion may come during tonight’s regular school committee meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the city council chambers at Haverhill City Hall.