BAR HARBOR — Teachers in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System are going back to the classroom today for the start of the new school year, but they are doing so without a new collective bargaining agreement.
The previous three-year contract expired Tuesday, but it doesn’t really matter because the terms of that contract will remain in effect until a new contract is approved by the school system board and the teacher associations in each of the schools.
And the school board has authorized salary step increases, effective Sept. 1, so that teachers will receive the pay hikes they are due based on their years of experience.
Superintendent Marc Gousse said Tuesday that he is optimistic a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached soon.
“Both sides are working really hard, and I they are making progress,” he said. “I think we’re getting very close. I’m very encouraged.”
The main sticking point has been how much teachers’ salaries will be raised over the next three years. The school board’s contract negotiators have proposed a more gradual increase than the teachers would like.
The Islander reported earlier this summer on how the salary scale for MDIRSS teachers compares to that of other school districts around the state. That comparison was based on 2019-2020 salary schedules.
The Maine Education Association has published the teacher salary schedules for 2020-2021. According to the MEA, the minimum salary for an MDIRSS teacher with a bachelor’s degree was $42,500. The highest salary for a teacher with a master’s degree was $68,450.
The statewide average lows and highs were $37,856 and $67,883.