CUMBERLAND — The School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors unanimously approved a three-year contract with the district’s teachers union.

The board’s Jan. 24 vote followed the SAD 51 Education Association’s support of the contract on Jan. 18. The new contract follows a previous three-year agreement.

Union President Connie Russell declined on Tuesday to provide the membership vote, but said it was “overwhelming” in support of the contract.

She praised how well the two sides worked together, to “really look at ways to write a contract that would be what’s best for teachers, students and the future of the district.”

SAD 51 Superintendent Robert Hasson on Monday said the contract was positive for both the teachers and the district, and that he was pleased to have the process complete.

The pact calls for no salary increase in the first year, a 1/2 percent increase the second year and a 1 percent hike in the final year, according to information from School Board member David Perkins and Russell. Perkins was one of three School Board members who served on the Cumberland-North Yarmouth school district’s negotiating committee.

The agreement also provides for establishment of an evaluation system for teachers. Teachers and administrators, headed by Sally Loughlin – SAD 51’s director of curriculum, assessment, instruction and professional development – will design and implement the new system.

A strict “seniority” method for teacher layoffs is a thing of the past with this contract. When the district must cut positions, it can eliminate teachers with “material deficiencies,” Perkins said.

In other words, teachers who have undergone a remediation plan for more than a year, or who have committed major misconduct, could be laid off ahead of teachers who have put in less time but have demonstrated greater effectiveness.

Although the contract will run for three years, the School Board and executive board of the union can seek to reopen negotiations for benefits and salary. This option is a response to changes in health insurance and the possibility of additional changes in  school district revenue.

Russell said the negotiating teams on both sides would have to agree to reopen talks, but that the union as a whole would not have to vote whether to do so. Any changes would have to be approved by the full membership and the SAD 51 board.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected].

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