Litchfield School District Seeks Court Approval for a Special Election

July 19, 2019

 

 

by Len Lathrop

The Litchfield School District is seeking authorization from the Superior Court of the State of New Hampshire, Southern District Hillsborough to hold a special school district meeting with the deliberative session on Sept. 3 at Campbell High School beginning at 6 p.m. and the voting session on Oct. 1 at Campbell High School from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the purpose of a collective bargaining agreement with the Litchfield Education Association representing all teachers employed by the Litchfield School District.

At last March’s town and school elections, a collective bargaining agreement was defeated by the voters; both the school board and the teachers had reached an agreement on Dec. 3 for a three-year collective bargaining agreement. Some of the changes were the replacement of the current health insurance plan with less expensive plans, with the district paying 89 percent and 93 percent of the premiums for the new plans with no salary increase in 2019-2020 school year, 2 percent the following year, and 2 percent in the 2021-2022 school year.  Based on changes in the step-increase system, the increases would have cost the taxpayers $1,115,114 over the life of the contract.  The contract failed at the March polls with 730 votes in favor and 884 votes against.

After the March elections, negotiations were reopened, and, on June 19, they reached a revised three-year CBA.  It covers the same school years and, if approved, begins on Sept. 1.  The cost of the increase if approved is $260,107 lower for a total of $855,007 for the three years.  Salary increases change to 1 percent in the first year; in the second year 1.5 percent; and 1.75 percent in the last year of the agreement.  The current health insurance plan is replaced with a less expensive plan starting in 2021 with the district paying 88 percent and 90 percent in 2020-2021 and 87 percent and 89 percent in 2021-2022.  This CBA is contingent upon the court granting the petition for a new vote.

In the petition to the court, the school board cites that not having a CBA in place will result in the teachers not receiving any salary increases for the 2019-2020 school year, causing a “hardship to the teachers” and “poor teacher morale and potential disharmony in labor-management relations“ (according to lines 9 and 10 of the agreement).

The hearing for the Special School District Meeting on RSA 197:3 IV is at 1:30 p.m. at the Superior Court, 30 Spring St. in Nashua on Aug. 12.

Any interested party may appear at this hearing and show why the complaint for Special School District Meeting should not be granted.  To be heard, you must first electronically register as an intervener and file an appearance with the court before Aug. 12, and send copies to the school district counsel Soule Leslie Kidder, Sayward & Loughman PLLC, 220 Main St., Salem NH 03079, attn: Michael Sumner Elwell ESQ.