RSU 9 Board Members continue research of conflict resolution strategies

first_imgFARMINGTON – The Board of Directors for Regional School Unit 9 listened to a number of public comments during Tuesday night’s meeting, mainly regarding a vote of “no confidence” issued by the Mt. Blue Education Association last month, and the ongoing negotiations of teacher contracts.The board released a statement clarifying a previous letter they had sent after a rebuttal from the association; the previous letter indicated that the board is proposing increasing salaries by 4.25 percent this year, 3.62 percent the next year, and 2.56 percent the final year, representing an overall increase of 10.78 percent, or $1.1 million dollars. When the association disputed those numbers, saying they were inaccurate, board members clarified that each group was looking at a different framework of the budget.“The annual wage increase of 4.25 percent reported in the Board’s statement was the actual increase to the wage scale for those employed during the 2019-20 school year. The parties’ disagreement relates to how retirees should factor into the costing. The business office is in the process of providing updated employee information to the Association with the hope that the parties can agree on the cost of the financial proposals,” the statement said.Contracts aside, many teachers voiced their distrust in the leadership of RSU 9, stating that the breech of confidence began several years ago and have little to do with contracts or COVID-19.“It feels like the members of the board do not have our backs,” educator Anthony Feldpausch said. “Halfway to a fair wage is still an unfair wage.”Feldpausch said that he fears RSU 9 will see a mass exodus of highly qualified teachers if issues are not addressed soon.Former RSU 9 teacher Dan Ryder also added public comment. Ryder has children in RSU 73 who are anticipating enrolling in Foster Tech Center programs when they reach high school. Before his resignation in August Ryder had been a teacher in RSU 9 for 22 years.“I did not leave Mt. Blue and RSU9 because I was given a better paycheck or preferable title somewhere else…I left because it is clear to me that RSU9’s district leadership and board of directors no longer hold the same values and principles that fueled 20 years of my growth as an educator,” Ryder said. “…the voice of the classroom educator has been quieted and marginalized time and time again…under the current leadership I could never have matured into the educator I have become because my growth was fueled by trust.”In a phone call, Board Director Angela LeClair said they are still gathering information on conflict resolution to address the concerns, despite association members saying they are not interested in conflict resolution programs. She said they hope to have three presentations to present to the board for voting.“If we offer it and people decide not to come, they decide not to come. Not all the staff is in the association,” LeClair said. “We’re not going to determine what we will offer based on the statement from the association.”Of the roughly 500 staff members at RSU 9, 360 signed the vote of no confidence in Superintendent Tina Meserve, including both association members and non-association staff. Typically a conflict resolution workshop, or executive coaching, takes six months to a year to accomplish. LeClair said they are hoping to find a program that could be completed in three months, and have at least one option on the table that could fit the bill.“We want clear examples of situations that they felt were happening, so we can better understand them and hopefully change that and work toward healing,” she said. “It’s disheartening to hear the continual comments that the board doesn’t care. We wouldn’t be in our positions if we didn’t. We get $15 per meeting. People don’t do that if they don’t care.”last_img read more