Milford teachers’ contract may go to special meeting

MILFORD – Voters might have the final say on the teachers’ contract stalemate.

The School Board and the Milford Teachers Association are petitioning state Superior Court to hold a special meeting on a factfinder’s recommendations.

The two sides have been negotiating since last August and in December reached an impasse on two issues.

The first was the board’s proposal to create a Group 3 for health insurance, made up of new employees who would have 80 percent of their premiums covered, instead of 85 percent.

Teachers contend that asking people who do the same job to have different levels of health care is unfair.

A second sticking point – that the teachers drop their proposal for a 2.25 percent cost of living adjustment in the contract’s third year – was resolved when teachers accepted that recommendation.

The “special meeting” would require a public hearing June 16, a Deliberative Session on Aug. 4, and then the ballot vote at the Sept. 9 state primary,

The teachers chose to go to fact-finding, and in February the Milford Teachers Association agreed unanimously to accept the factfinder’s nonbinding recommendations: that the School Board drop its proposal to change its health insurance premium coverage so that new employees pay more and that wage increases will be 1.5 percent and 2 percent for years one and two of the contract and 2 percent for year three.

Factfinder Bonnie MacSpiritt compared Milford School District’s school wages, hours and conditions with that of Amherst, Brookline, Hollis-Brookline and Mont Vernon.

The board contends that the district offers very competitive salaries and the third tier is necessary to control the cost of health insurance.

The Teachers Association, which has about 218 members, says more than half its teachers are no longer on the step schedule so they are getting no salary increases while they are burdened with increasing health insurance costs.

At the public hearing and the Deliberative Session voters will see the factfinder’s report and the costs of the three-year contracts.

The School Board voted 3-2 last month to petition Superior Court for the special meeting, based on a petition signed by 96 voters.

Bob Willette and Len Mannino were the dissenters.

Emergency eeting

The petition is for an emergency special meeting, as defined by state statute. A regular special meeting would require half the town’s registered voters to vote at the meeting, a highly unlikely occurrence, said board Chairman Paul Dargie.