Retired Teacher and Former Student Talk Cements Teachers’ Contract

School Committee President Scott W. Wood Jr.

Efforts of a retired teacher and his former student may have made the difference in convincing the Haverhill School Committee to approve a new contract with educators Wednesday night.

School Committee President Scott W. Wood Jr. credited one of his former teachers—former Haverhill Education Association (HEA) Vice President Geoff Grosky—with helping to break a deadlock during negotiations between the schools and union.

“I think he’s a great source of knowledge and understanding of what is happening,” Wood said. Grosky, in an online post, said he spent two hours with Wood discussing the current round of negotiations. He revealed some of the behind-the-scenes activity.

Haverhill Education Association (HEA) President Lisa R. Begley, Haverhill High School health and physical education instructor.

Haverhill Education Association (HEA) President Lisa R. Begley, Haverhill High School health and physical education instructor.

“At his request, I subsequently spoke to (HEA President) Lisa Begley asking that she contact Scott for a conversation about the contract. Lisa did reach out to Scott...and for whatever reasons (some political, I’m sure)—Scott Wood did in fact, within the next 10 days, manage to get an agreement done with the HEA,” Grosky said.

The deal, which gives teachers 5.75 percent salary increases over the next four years, was ratified during an executive session by a vote of 5-0, Wood confirmed. Besides Wood, those voting were members Joseph J. Bevilacqua, Shaun P. Toohey, Paul A. Magliocchetti and Maura Ryan-Ciardiello. School Committeewoman Susan D. Danehy was absent and Mayor James J. Fiorentini, chairman, abstained from voting because his son is a teacher.

Documents distributed at the meeting show the agreement will cost approximately an additional $5.6 million over the contract period. The amounts are $1.2 million for the current fiscal year, $1.9 million next year and $2.45 million during the year ending June 30, 2018. Increases for administrators, principal clerks, custodians, education support professionals, nurses, cafeteria workers and others add another $1.3 million to the school system budget over the same term. Several committee members reportedly expressed concern about how increases during the final year of the contract will be paid.

The contract must still be approved by union members.

The school committee normally meets Thursdays, but Superintendent James F. Scully reportedly asked for a date change to accommodate a minor medical procedure.