Haverhill Teachers, Schools Express Contract Optimism Going into August Negotiations

(File photograph.)

Both Haverhill teachers, whose contract expired at the end of June, and School Committee negotiators head into August talks believing an agreement may be close at hand.

Haverhill Education Association President Anthony J. Parolisi says gaps between the two sides are narrowing.

“The School Committee has given us an interesting proposal that we’re taking very seriously. We have agreed to some language. Others, we have to get closer together on,” he says, adding the union will present a counter proposal.

Parolisi says both sides agree there is a need to “attract and retain highly qualified teachers.” He explains Haverhill is not as attractive as surrounding school districts when it comes to salary and benefits.

School Committee member Richard J. Rosa, chairman of the schools’ negotiating team, agrees. He says his members want “the same thing,” adding, “the teachers deserve more money and we’re working on it. It takes time.” He explains, the matter isn’t just about salaries, but rather a “a significant amount of (other) proposals.”

Rosa says the School Committee has “a duty to look at language very carefully to make sure we know exactly what it is going to cost. The district and taxpayers need to know exactly what we are spending.”

“We think these changes will help us attract more teachers, especially experienced teachers,” he notes.

New contract talks began more than a year ago when teachers and the school administration agreed to a one-year contract with a raise of about two percent. Both sides are seeking to ink a new, three-year contract. Negotiations are scheduled for Aug. 12 and 19. Parolisi said he is hopeful there will be a resolution to remaining issues, which were not disclosed. He cautions, “It remains to be seen how close we can get.”

In 2015, teachers and the city reached agreement that there would be no salary increases for 2014, one percent in 2015, two percent in 2016 and, finally, a total of 2.75 percent raise over two steps beginning in 2017. That contract reduced the number sick days for current employees by a day and placed a prorated scale of earned personal and sick days for new employees.

Haverhill Education Association is represented by a field representative from Massachusetts Teachers Association. Besides Rosa, the school team includes School Committee Vice Chairman Sven A. Amirian and member Paul A. Magliocchetti.

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