North Branford Teacher Contract Heads for Finish Line

Without taking action on the information, the Town Council was briefed on a new teachers' contract that should quietly pass into reality by the end of February.

If not challenged, the new, three-year contract becomes adopted within 30 days of formalization. As of the Town Council meeting on Feb. 4, the clock was ticking with just 21 more days to go before it was set to become a reality, explained North Branford Public Schools Business Director Don Winnicki.

At the Feb. 4 meeting, Superintendent of Schools Scott Schoonmaker, together with Winnicki, explained the agreement to the Town Council. Negotiations for the new contract were finalized in a late December 2013 meetings between the schools and teachers' union.

Based on extensive research of negotiated contracts recently accepted by many towns and districts in the state, as well as those in bordering towns, "We felt that this was a fair contact," said Schoonmaker.

The contract allows for an average raise of three percent for three years with "steps" for tenured teachers. Schoonmaker also noted the current contract, which expires this fall, included a "hard zero," meaning the teachers accepted a three-year contract with no percentage increase during one of the three years.

Town Attorney John Gesmonde said he saw no legal issues with the contract's outcome, which he felt had been duly considered and negotiated by both parties. Gesmonde added that, should the council vote down the contract and send it into arbitration, the process could be costly.

The council thanked the superintendent for the contract report, then moved on to other business matters; effectively giving no endorsement-and also no sign of disapproval-of the increase. While the Feb. 4 Town Council meeting involved no action or motion concerning the pending contract, signaling that none should be expected, nothing is final until the 30-day window closes.

The Town Council does have one more regular meeting scheduled before the adoptive date.

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