Judge Rules for Special Election in Litchfield, but Deliberative must be Moved

September 6, 2019



by Len Lathrop

Are we getting to the point that no good deed goes unpunished relative to the efforts of the Litchfield School Board and SAU administration to get a teacher contract in place for this year?  Maybe the phrase “three steps forward and two steps back” applies here.  The Superior Court judge on Friday ruled that Litchfield could hold a special election to ratify a contract the parties agreed to in June.  The renegotiated contract replaces the agreement that failed in last March’s election.

The backward step happened when all the phases to hold the election had to be moved to later this year.  The required deliberative session, the first step to hold an election, was scheduled for Sept. 3, ironically the first day of school in Litchfield, but had to be rescheduled for Oct. 29when it was found out that the voting checklist has not been properly corrected that would open the election results to a legal challenge.  The new date is Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Campbell High School auditorium.  With a required time frame between the special meeting dates that voting day will be Tuesday, Oct. 29, with voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the CHS gymnasium.  Like a regular election, all of the laws on voter registration and absentee balloting are in force.

The only question presented will be Article 1 as follows:

“Shall the Litchfield School District vote to approve the cost items included in the collective bargaining agreement reached between the Litchfield School District and the Litchfield Education Association, which calls for the following increases in salaries and benefits at the current staffing level:

        Year         Estimated Increase

2019-2020          $256,587

2020-2021          $294,278

2021-2022          $303,872

and further to raise and appropriate the sum of $256,587 for fiscal year 2020, such sum representing the additional costs attributable to the increase in salaries and benefits required by the new agreement over those that would be paid at current staffing levels.

Estimated Tax Impact:  $0.28

Recommended by the School Board:  Vote: 5-0-0

Recommended by the Budget Committee:  Vote: 6-2-0

This contract is different from the one offered to voters last March.  The highlight is a change in teachers’ compensation and their health insurance contribution.  The new contract has a 23.35-percent reduction in the agreement.  The March agreement was $1,115,114, and the new one to be voted on in October has a total tax impact of $854,737.

During a previous presentation, the first goal presented by the school board was to attract and retain excellent teachers with the second goal being to change the health care plan to a consumer-driven plan.