When I attended the School Committee meeting tonight I sat there listening and taking notes and was ready to come back here and blast the Teacher’s Union and their President Paul Georges for not making concessions and not having more people switch from Master Medical.
Except after the Committee meeting adjourned I walk over and introduced myself to Paul Georges to see if I could get a comment. Mr. Georges could have easily told me No considering what I have written in the past, he also could have quietly told me off. He did neither.
Instead he told me that the Sun was correct that the teachers had agreed to give up 1 day unpaid, take the day before school starts off and save the School Dept. $450,000. He also pointed out that while the savings in the Health care was not what the committee wanted at least it was something and that the Union did try to educate the members on alternatives.
The main sticking point according to Mr. Georges is that the negotiator hired by the committee kept adding stipulations that the union would or could not agree to. He also stated that the Lowell School Committee NEVER met the union face to face to negotiate. A fact that disappointed him greatly.
IF that fact is true and at this point I have to believe him, then the School Committee shares the blame for not being able to reach an agreement. If this is their tactic for negotiating a new contract, it is wrong.
The Lowell Committee members need to sit down face to face with the Union and hammer out an agreement. All sides agree that 2012 is going to be worse than this year and we the taxpayers and voters of Lowell need both sides to sit and hammer contracts and concessions out face to face. Both sides must sit and work together.
It is only through the hard work of Supt. Scott and Asst. Supt. Lang that more cuts were avoided and they deserve the credit after already making 4 million in cuts.
The Lowell School Committee finalized their budget today. The Lowell Teacher’s Union made no concessions and the Health care switch was far short of the expected $300,00
The Supt. and her staff came up with over $300,000 in savings by signing a contract with Aramark, they also found another $140,00 in savings in circuit Breakers and tuition reimbursements. They need to be applauded for their effort.
The School Committee is using $511,000.00 in 1 time money to balance this years budget. In reality they are starting the 2012 budget that amount in the hole.
After sitting through the budget hearing I think Committee members Laraba, Doherty and Conway are being to pro union and should have cut the Professional Development Account as Committee members Leary, Martin and Leahy wanted to. You should never spend the one time $511,000 in one budget.
After much deliberation and long meetings the Greater Lowell Tech School Committee and new Supt. have reached agreement and a 3 year contract was signed.
Is it perfect? NO but it is better than what the last School Committee gave to Jim Cassin and did not include an automatic raise nor an annuity. Ms. Santoro did a good job protecting what she has earned as the Asst. Supt./ Special ED Director. She is getting an undisclosed lump sum for those unused days.
The School Committee did a good job not granting an automatic raise or the annuity. They capped the days she can cash in. I am not in favor of giving anyone 15 sick days, 7 should be a limit. I have no issue with the vacation time or personal/bereavement days.
All in all a pretty good deal for all sides and now the School Committee and Ms. Santoro can begin a new era at the School. I also see nothing wrong with privately deliberating a contract with a person. It doesn’t have to be done in public has long as a copy of the contract gets posted. (SO FAR NO SUCH POSTING ON THE SCHOOL WEB SITE AS PROMISED)
I wish MJ well in her new role and whoever she selects as her Asst. Superintendents.
I wish the School Committee beginning in August show more of a willingness to have open and transparent meetings (but won’t hold my breath)
Now tonight we see what the Lowell Teachers Union did or doesn’t do. I am hoping to be at City Hall tonight to see things 1st hand but so far that’s a 50/50 possibility.