By John Burton
FAIR HAVEN – After a lengthy negotiating process the board of education and the teachers’ union have reached a contract agreement.
The Fair Haven Education Association, which has approximately 90 members who are teachers and secretaries, have ratified the contract, according to Elizabeth Crowley, president of the association and a teacher at Knollwood School.
The pact, which covers from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2016, provides a 9 percent salary increase over four years.
“We went through the process and I think we reached a fair agreement,” Crowley said. “I think both sides think that.”
“I think it’s fair,” agreed Nelson Ribon, the district’s superintendent of schools.
Association members have been working without a contract for two years, with negotiations eventually being handled by a mediator and a fact-finder appointed by the state Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) when local negotiations reached an impasse, board of education attorney Anthony Sciarrillo said last month.
“They have good faith differences,” Sciarrillo said.
The superintendent said the major sticking point was primarily about salary. “That was the major issue during the negotiating process.”
When the negotiation was taken over by state representatives that seemed to make the discussions move that much slower, because of the long delays between sessions, said Ribon, who was named superintendent about a year into the protracted negotiations. “It was lengthy. You’re in the hands of other people and once you go into the second year without a contract, it gets a little frustrating.”
Ribon said both sides always remained “cordial, professional.”
Education association members’ health care contribution remains the same, as outlined under Chapter 78, a 2011 state law, Ribon said.
Overall, the contract adheres to the recommendations offered by PERC representatives and is consistent with similar districts, he said.