The Mountain Times

°F Wed, April 16, 2014

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News breifs in the Lakes Region 3.29

Teacher turmoil

Teachers in Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union sidestepped a planned strike by reaching a tentative agreement with the school boards at Castleton, Fair Haven, Benson and Orwell. The major difference was over what teachers in the ARSU Education Association called a pay cut but school boards labeled a pay freeze.

The union has pushed for a new teacher's contract for 15 months, but failed to reach agreement with the school boards. After negotiations continued to fail, the school boards imposed a one-year contract without the most recent salary increases, a move that took about $100 from each monthly check and which board members describe as a pay freeze, eliminating step increases (rewards for additional education and experience) that teachers began receiving at the beginning of the academic year - and a pay freeze that applies to administrators and paraeducators as well.

The union has been demanding a three-year contract containing a 3.5 percent pay increase each year. The school boards want to pay teachers 1.6 percent more and pay increases based on years of experience. They also differ over the percentage that teachers pay for health care insurance, with the union pushing for 1 percent more in the final year of contract, but the boards say 1 percent more now, plus 3 percent more in the second contract year.

Many in the affected communities support the teachers, fearing that not increasing teacher pay is the road to a lower quality education for their children. Others say that we cannot afford to increase teacher as it will increase property taxes when many are out of work or have taken cuts in pay or hours themselves to retain their jobs.

Teachers have already received 17 percent pay increases over the past four years. Their school districts pay nearly all of their health insurance premiums. Most have their summers off or get paid extra for their classroom work beyond the 180-day school year.  
The affected communities have been under a great deal of pressure. Union teachers say they are not respected for their contribution. Those who support the school boards say that it is the strike-oriented teachers who do not respect the communities they supposedly serve. 
No details have been released on the temporary agreement.  Reaching a real agreement that leads to contract has been postponed.

These same arguments will undoubtedly arise again unless the local economy takes off at a gallop with those outside the education profession also receiving pay increases and all around fiscal improvement.

Castleton shorts

•    The old Castleton State College Physical Plant/Facilities building has been demolished, to be replaced by a pavilion and gateway to Spartan Stadium.

•    The college's technical director Chad Voghell is moving on after almost 13 years at the school. He has accepted a position directing lighting for Rutland-based rock concert and events producer Atomic Professional Audio.
•    Senior art one-person exhibitions each take a week's turn in the Library Lounge Gallery. Drop in once a week to see what's new from these talented young people.
•    Castleton's new 162-bed, $7.8-million dormitory will be ready for occupancy June 1. The first to use it are not college students, however; summer camp participants will be the first to experience the new facility. In addition to sleeping space, the dorm contains space for meetings and conferences, maybe even some dinners.
•    Castleton graduates Stuart Stefan and Jonathan Lafrance are skating for the Huntsville (AL) Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

FHUHS news

FAIR HAVEN -The Spanish Club plans to spend 24 days in Spain, walking about 300 miles of the Camino de Santiago, and learning about daily life in Spain. Teachers Bruce Chase and David Herren-Lage are working on an academic plan that may give participants course credit if approved by the school board.

A recent Morning Edition program on Vermont Public Radio featured Fair Haven and its NECAP scores. The school had received $550,000 federal funds over three years which it used to expand its freshman transition program, increase teacher training, and improve its technology capabilities. Principal Brett Blanchard questions whether the NECAP scores measure how well the school prepares students for life beyond the classroom.


Monday, April 2 - Better Balance Classes/Open House, Castleton Community Center, 9:30 a.m. Successive classes are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 9:30 to 10:30. Call 468-3093.

Wednesday, April 4 - Chili Mac 'N Cheese Cook-Off, Mettawee Community School. Enter an original chili and/or macaroni and cheese dish for judging by the community at large. Call Brooke Burnham or Linda Maness, 645-9009, for info.

Tagged: lakes region, Lakes Region News