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Montpelier teachers, administration reach contract agreement

MONTPELIER— A long and at times contentious contract negotiations between the Montpelier teacher’s union and administration is over with the acceptance of a new contract.

The Montpelier Exempted Village Schools Board of Education approved a new contract with the Montpelier Education Association (MEA) during its meeting Tuesday evening.

The contract includes a 3% increase to base salary for years one and two of the contract and 2.75% plus return of one step in the final year of the contract. It will be effective until July 31, 2026, and salary adjustments will be retroactive to Aug. 1, 2023.

“We’re happy to have it behind us,” said Nate Rose, board president.

Members of the MEA negotiations team had a similar sentiment.

“We’re very thankful to finally get an agreement,” Lester Orndorff, MEA negotiations team member, said.

Another part of the new contract is personal leave.

The initial contract allowed for only three people to be absent on any given day, something teachers said was too restricting for a school with more than 70 staff.

According to documents available on the school’s website, the approved contract allows for no more than 10% of the teacher staff to use personal leave on any given day.

Contract negotiations have been going on since at least May and teachers had been working under the terms of the previous contract even after it expired on July 31.

MEA members and their supporters went to the December board of education meeting and addressed the board about their concerns, which involved teacher pay and personal time.

At the time, Rose said the board had presented MEA with a “last and final” contract offer.

“We strongly believe our last and final offer is very fair and compensates the staff well while allowing us the ability manage our district effectively,” he said. “We will do our best to maintain transparency throughout this process.”

MEA didn’t feel it was fair and staged a walk-out, having the teachers all leave at their contractually obligated time.

“We’ve been, overall, mistreated the last few years,” DJ Apple, a 10-year teacher who is also on MEA’s crisis team, said during the walkout. “I love the community, everyone here loves the community, and we love the kids. That’s why we’re still here.”

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