RSU 1 board, teachers union approve new contract

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BATH — The Regional School Unit 1 Board of Directors and Sagadahoc Education Association approved a new teachers’ contract this week, concluding a long and sometimes contentious process.

The two sides reached a settlement Aug. 18 after a morning-to-evening negotiating session. Union members voted for the pact, 171-5, on Monday, Aug. 30; the School Board gave it unanimous approval on Tuesday.

The contract expires Aug. 31, 2012, and is retroactive to Sept. 1, 2009, for all employees except those in West Bath, whose previous contract expired in August.

During negotiations, teachers in Bath, Phippsburg and Woolwich worked under terms of their previous contract, which expired Aug. 31, 2009.

The new contract provides for an average pay raise of about 4 percent for the retroactive first year, for those communities whose contracts expired a year ago. RSU 1 Superintendent William Shuttleworth said the next two years call for average raises of 2.71 percent and 2.76 percent.

“I’m pleased with the outcome of the process,” David Cowie, co-president of the Sagadahoc Education Association, said Wednesday.

Cowie, who has been a teacher in bath for two decades, added that “the language in the contract … does not look unfamiliar to teachers who have lived under the Bath contract. … The present agreement was modeled primarily after the Bath contract.”

He said eight negotiating sessions were held over the summer.

Shuttleworth said the school district is grateful to start the school year with a contract in place that satisfies the teachers.

“Obviously, I think our No. 1 goal is to make kids stronger and smarter; that’s what we’re in the business for,” he said. “And if the contract is a document that supports high, high levels of student achievement, then I’m really glad that (the teachers) are in a position of feeling that their needs are being met, so that they can fully address their attention to make sure that all kids are successful.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.