Educators stage a “Red for Ed” march through downtown Kennebunk Friday afternoon, June 4. The teachers’ union and school district on in contract negotiations. Dan King photo

KENNEBUNK – In a statement issued on Friday morning, June 4, the RSU 21 School Board and Kennebunk Arundel Kennebunkport Education Association said negotiating teams are making “good progress” toward a new teaching contract that would be effective Sept. 1.

“Our negotiating team wants our members and the community to know that we have been making good progress in negotiations with the board, and we value the strong working relationship we have built with the board’s negotiating team,” said KAKEA chief negotiator Renee Doucette.

“We share the same positive outlook with the association that we are working hard through some complex issues together and we always have the best interests of students, teachers, and taxpayers in mind,” said RSU 21 board chair Art LeBlanc.

The teams have scheduled more meetings for Tuesday, June 8, and Thursday, June 10.

The teachers’ association instituted a “work to rule” effort on June 1, which means teachers work to the letter of the contract and are available for work of their defined hours, said Jenessa Cadorette, association president.

The current contract expires Aug. 31.

LeBlanc said the district is trying to balance providing a competitive total compensation package for teachers at a cost financially responsible to taxpayers.

“In the current teacher’s contract, there are multiple examples where some teachers get a raise that is three times less than a comparable teacher’s raise, based on relatively similar completed years of service,” said LeBlanc in a prior statement. “This is just one example of the important issues we are seeking to resolve.” He said another concern is the rising cost of health care benefits, noting the district spends more than $6 million annually for health care coverage.”

A 3 percent budget increase to salaries speaks specifically to budgetary impact, said Cadorette.

“It is not 3 percent for all, and that is disheartening,” said Cadorette in a prior statement. “So much more than raises are at stake as part of the contract, including health benefits, paid leave, continuing education reimbursement, etc.”

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