After voting 58-58 on Tuesday, teachers in Freeport, Durham and Pownal will be asked to vote again next week on the first labor agreement reached with school officials since Regional School Unit 5 was formed in 2009.

Teachers’ union members deadlocked on the proposed contract, an agreement that took more than two years to draft and was approved by the district’s board of directors May 9.

“We counted several times to make sure,” union president Nancy Drolet said Wednesday. “We were quite surprised. It’s very difficult to bring three districts together under one contract.”

The second vote will be held Tuesday and Wednesday. Drolet said the hope is that some teachers will change their minds, and any teachers who were unable to participate in the first vote will have two days to cast ballots next week.

Details of the proposed contract haven’t been released.

Teachers have varied concerns about the contract, Drolet said, most of them related to anticipated changes in teaching practices rather than money.

However, sticking points do include a combined pay scale that’s designed to bring salaries in Durham and Pownal schools in line with higher salaries in Freeport schools, Drolet said.

Some teachers would get big raises and others would get negligible raises, especially when factored with a proposed increase in what teachers pay for health insurance.

Union leaders solicited members’ written comments on ballots, Drolet said, and even teachers who approved the proposal have concerns. Union leaders plan to meet with members in the coming days to address a variety of issues.

“Maybe we can allay some of their concerns,” Drolet said.

In all, 116 of the 129 union members cast ballots Tuesday.

A few teachers didn’t vote because they will leave the school district in June and they felt it wasn’t their contract to vote on, Drolet said.

Others were ill or away at conferences and were unable to vote this week because the union doesn’t allow absentee ballots.

Regardless of the outcome of the second vote, union leaders plan to forward teachers’ comments to school officials, Drolet said.

“People have significant concerns about aspects of this contract,” she said, “so even if we get a ‘yes’ vote next week, we still have some issues to address as a district.”

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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