Establishment of teacher leaders, a significant raise increase through 2025 and teachers contributing more to their health insurance mark the big steps taken for the Waterville Teachers Association to again be working under a current contract.
In a special 15-minute Waterville Board of Education meeting last Thursday, the Board voted 6-0 (with Russell Stewart absent) to approve the agreement already approved by 100 percent of the WTA members. WTA President Jeff Lenard also attended the meeting.
Under the agreement, teachers will receive an average annual pay increase of 4.1 percent, retroactive to the expiration of the last contract in June 2020. WCS Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Spring said the last few years of teacher turnover, brought up by community members at many board meetings, also concerned her and the Board.
“We can be more competitive and retain the staff we have and attract new people,’’ she said.
Teachers will contribute more to the cost of their health care. “Negotiations are give and take,’’ Spring said, “and the WTA agreed to these concessions.’’
The contract also creates the formal title of Teacher Leaders that will come with a stipend and added responsibilities for those teachers chosen. Spring said those in the new role will facilitate curriculum, instructional and assessment development.
Teacher Leaders will be chosen in kindergarten through 12th grades and be based on grade levels and curriculum topics. “They will be a big help to new and current staff,’’ Spring said.
“They will be leading their teachers. This is a formal structure to create continuous improvement and point us in a forward direction,’’ she said.
Spring, Board members and Lenard all said settling the contract after two years has led to a sense of optimist as the 2021-22 school year ends.
“It was a lot of work but it’s very positive moving forward,’’ said Lenard, who became WTA president in June 2019. “There is good faith on both sides that this is where we want to be. It brings us to a new normal.’’
Board President Steve Stanton said the agreement puts the District in a great place. “It’s taken a lot of discussion but we’re all happy about where we are now.’’