Region 1 Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain reported to the All Board Chairmen Committee Wednesday that four administrators plan to form a union.
Director of Special Education Carl Gross, Special Education Supervisor Martha Schwaikert, Housatonic Valley Regional High School Principal Matthew Harnett and Housatonic Assistant Principal Ian Strever have decided to join together as a bargaining unit.
“This will give us a formal process and rules,” Chamberlain said. “It will unify what they’re doing.”
She said she’ll have to call the state Department of Labor and the teachers union to see what steps need to be taken for such a move to take place.
She, Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves and Business Manager Samuel Herrick will continue to negotiate as individuals.
While the ABC Committee will continue to recommend to the Region 1 Board of Education the contract renewals for the superintendent, assistant and business manager, the union contracts will be negotiated directly with the Region 1 board.
Last year controversy arose when the committee, which is advisory, and the school board, voted to extend the contracts of the five central office administrators another year to 2015. Opponents said adding conditions to the contracts, such as changing vacation days or adding provisions for annuities, made them new contracts that should have been voted on again by the board.
The first round of the budget vote was rejected, with some saying that the contract extensions were the reason. When the administrators agreed to removing the added year, and some monetary reductions were made by the board, the budget was approved at the second vote.
It appears that all the administrators prefer to negotiate three-year contracts with every detail spelled out for all three years.
“The consensus of the Salisbury board is a three-year contract with everything defined, just the way the teacher contracts are done,” said Brian D. Bartram, its chairman. Marilyn Yerks of the Sharon board and Paul Cortese of the Kent board said their respective boards agreed to the same process.
“Cornwall doesn’t see the current way as a problem, but will go either way,” said Chairman Rebecca Hurlburt.
Ross Grannan, chairman of the Lee H. Kellogg Board of Education, said his group will be discussing the matter at its meeting next week, but he thinks members will agree to the three-year plan. “The current way is muddy,” he said.
The question arose on whether instituting the three-year model should wait until after the current contracts are complete. In the case of the five top administrators, that would mean waiting until 2014. Harnett and Strever have contracts that run through 2015.
Bartram said he favored reopening the current contracts and replacing them with the three-year plan beginning in July.