Under pressure from Town Meeting members, the school committee released dollar figures regarding the recently settled teacher contracts at last night's session of the 2011 Annual Town Meeting.
School Committee Chair KC Kato told Town Meeting that $746,000 will be devoted to steps and lanes for teachers, and $243,000 will go toward wage increases for the next two fiscal years, according to the new contract. These figures are part of a new two-year teachers’ contract that will offer teachers in steps 1 through 15 no raise for the first year of the contract, effective July 1. However, a new top step was created (16), and teachers and department heads at this benchmark will receive a 1 percent raise the first year. In year two, all teachers will receive a 1 percent raise. The contract will expire June 30, 2013. Kato said these figures are on par with this sort of contract in other communities.
“While we are reluctant to reveal what the actual dollar amounts are…we recognize the concern that Town Meeting has, and the frustration, so we’ll just put it out,” Kato said.
Town Meeting members repeatedly asked for dollar amounts to be made public during the course of night No. 2 of Town Meeting, but Kato said to do so could jeopardize school contract negotiations that are still pending. However, after a 15-minute recess in the middle of the meeting, Kato disclosed the figures.
Town Meeting member Richard M. Schwartzstein asked Albert S. Robinson, Wellesley’s town counsel, how detrimental the release of these figures might be to the collective bargaining process. Robinson said it could be looked at in two ways.
“The negotiators…are tempted to be transparent,” he said, citing a state statutory scheme that allows the school committee to negotiate such contracts without Town Meeting approval, “but in my opinion, the negotiators are empowered to make that judgment. And if indeed further disclosure, further chipping away at disclosing information, jeopardizes their position…they’re empowered to resist.”
Session No. 3 of the 2011 Annual Town Meeting will take place Monday, April 4 at the Wellesley Middle School at 7:30 p.m.
Other meeting notes:
- Motion No. 1 of article No. 8, the omnibus budget article, was accepted. The entirety of the session was spent on this item, one of the most important issues annually. The town budget for fiscal year 2012 was set at just above $124 million, a 4 percent increase over fiscal year 2011's budget.
- At 10:50 p.m., moderator Peg Metzger asked Town Meeting members whether they wanted to vote on the motion during the current session or adjourn until Monday, April 4. An overwhelming majority of the near 200 Town Meeting members in attendance voted to continue.