New contract up to teachers



BAR HARBOR — Teachers in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System (MDIRSS) are voting this week on a new three-year contract.

If teachers in each of the elementary schools and MDI High School approve the proposed agreement, then each of the school committees will hold a special meeting next Monday, June 22, to ratify the contract.

Representatives of the teachers unions and school committees have been working for the past 14 months to negotiate a new agreement. The current contract expires Aug. 31.

Ratification of a system-wide “common contract” requires the approval of a majority of teachers at each school.

Negotiators thought they had an agreement acceptable to both sides last month. But in voting the week of May 11, teachers at two schools – Trenton Elementary and MDI High School – rejected the deal. So, negotiators went back to the bargaining table.

Teachers at Mount Desert Elementary were part of the system-wide negotiations for nearly a year. But they decided in the winter to withdraw from those talks, choosing instead to negotiate directly with their local school committee.

Committee chairman Caroline Pryor said Wednesday that the school’s teachers earlier this week approved a new contract. She said it is similar to the contract agreement worked out by the negotiators for the rest of the schools in the system.

“It’s very good news,” Pryor said of the teachers’ vote. “It’s important for the teachers, and it’s important for the school to have a contract.”

Details of the contracts will not be made public until they are ratified by the school committees.

The lack of a new common contract agreement has been holding up the hiring of new teachers for next school year. Superintendent Howard Colter said he didn’t want to send out contract notices until it was clear “exactly how negotiations will settle out.”

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