The Andover Education Association and the Andover School Committee reached an agreement Tuesday afternoon, ending a five-day walkout by more than 850 teachers and instructional assistants.
The agreement still needs to be ratified by the union’s full membership. In a Facebook post announcing the pact, AEA said schools would reopen Wednesday after three school days were canceled for the strike.
The contract gives a 15.5 percent raises to teachers and 34 percent for instructional assistants over four years. For elementary school students, the deal includes extra recess time that teachers will use for planning time.
The school committee, however, said it would need to consider cuts that include layoffs, as well as program and service reductions. Andover plans on 3.75 percent school budget increases each year. Without belt tightening or a budget increase, the district will be unable to offer the same level of staffing and services.
“We heard clearly from the teachers and many in the community that teacher and instructional assistant pay was the priority in this agreement and we responded accordingly,” School Committee Chair Tracey Spruce said. “At the same time, the final agreement is inconsistent with the principles of the town’s long-range financial plan so, to live within our means, we will need to make meaningful program, service, and staff reductions.”
Other terms of the agreement include:
- Eight weeks of fully paid parental leave and the option to use an additional four weeks of accrued sick time, bringing the total amount of fully paid parental leave to 12 weeks.
- The ability to use up to 60 days of accrued, paid sick leave when taking family medical leave to care for a seriously ill family member.
- Increases to elementary teacher planning time, which brings the added benefit of extended recess time for students.
2023 Andover Teachers Strike
Latest updates as of 6:40 p.m. Tuesday:
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- Strike Legal Fees Mount For APS (Tuesday, 10:35 a.m.)
- Both Sides Optimistic Deal Is Near (Tuesday, 7 a.m.)
- Ex-School Committee Member Under Fire For Post On Strike
- Schools Closed Tuesday (Monday, 9:05 p.m.)
- Union: ‘We’re Getting Close’ (Monday, 8:30 p.m.)
- Striking Union Faces Fines Of $50K+ Per Day (Monday, 6 p.m.)
- AEA Rally on Facebook (Monday, 1:20 p.m.)
- AEA Press Conference on Facebook (Monday, 11:30 am)
- Where The Sides Stand As of Monday Morning
- Select Board, FinComm Enter Strike Talks (11:30 p.m. Sunday)
- Schools Closed Monday, Strike Goes On (Sunday, 9:30 p.m.)
- No Deal After 20-Hour Bargaining Session (3:10 p.m. Sunday)
- All coverage
The Andover School Committee has paid $137,154 to a Boston-based public relations firm and a law practice specializing in employment law in recent months as it has negotiated a new contract with the union which represents more than 850 teachers and instructional assistants.
The payments included $14,000 on Sept. 28 and another $7,000 on Nov. 9 to Melwood Global and $126,154 to Valerio Dominello & Hillman LLC since the start of the fiscal year on July 1, according to the Town’s open finance Website. Andover Public Schools also made payments totaling $340,064 to the Westwood-based law firm in the fiscal year ended June 30.
The finance data does not make clear whether all of the spending is related to the negotiations with the Andover Education Association, which began in January.
Andover Public Schools could reopen as soon as Wednesday, with both sides saying they are closing a gap in negotiating a contract to end the teachers strike that started Thursday night.
“The current offers on the table from the School Committee and AEA are closer than when the day began, the school committee said in a statement after bargaining broke for the night around 11:30 p.m. Monday. “The School Committee regrets that school had to be canceled again Tuesday due to the strike and hopes that students are back in the classroom Wednesday.”
Representatives for the Andover Education Association had expressed similar sentiments during a break earlier Monday evening.
Tuesday is the third straight day schools have been closed for the strike. The district will once again offer box breakfasts and lunches, which can be picked up at Bancroft Elementary School between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Town is offering additional services Tuesday to help parents manage kids who are home from school, including Recreation Department activities from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Old Town Hall Tuesday (more info).