Andover Public Schools and the union representing teachers were scheduled to meet for an 11th time Monday, with both sides signaling a wide gap remains in ongoing negotiations for a new teachers’ contract.

The Andover Education Association’s members have been working without a contract since the start of the school year. The union claims an increase in administrative positions has come at the expense of classroom instructions and led to high turnover and low morale among teachers. In recent days, AEA has posted increasingly pointed posts about the stalled negotiations on its Facebook page.

In a note to the district’s community Monday, Andover School Committee Chair Tracey Spruce said AEA “has not offered a meaningful counter-proposal” to APS’s initial counterproposal on Feb. 1. Spruce noted the slow-paced negotiations “hurt teacher morale” in what was her second note about the negotiations to families since the start of the school year.

“We don’t feel it is appropriate to negotiate in public, but we believe it is important for the school community to know more about our offers, particularly since the AEA has begun releasing information that is critical of our efforts to reach agreement,” Spruce wrote. “We would prefer to avoid an uptick in unnecessary and negative rhetoric and are committed to staying focused on data, facts and meaningful dialogue.” 

The 2022-23 school started with high-profile disputes between school boards and unions representing teachers in Massachusetts. Following a year of negotiations, Melrose educators averted a strike after reaching a three-year agreement a day before they planned to walk off the job. Teachers in Haverhill went on a four-day strike, and Malden teachers went on a one-day strike in October. Brookline teachers also went on strike for one day last year.

Those union essentially broke state law, which prohibits classroom teachers from striking. The Massachusetts Teachers Association has been lobbying to change the law to allow teachers to strike.

The Andover contract that expired this summer took 27 bargaining sessions over 15 months to negotiate, including three meetings with a state mediator as a deadline to get a deal in place neared. Wages and class scheduling were the major sticking points. The final deal had a 1 percent cost of living increase in the first year, a two percent raise in the second year and a 1.5 percent raise in 2022-23.

The expired contract also increased reimbursements for graduate studies from $1,500 to $2,000 and improved parental leave benefits.

Under the expired contract, Andover teachers earned between $51,792 and $113,146 last year, depending on education, continuing education credit hours and service. Teachers can also earn stipends for picking up extra duties and are partially reimbursed for completion of continuing education credit hours.

File Photo: Dave Copeland/Andover News