SVSU, school administrators make progress on contract

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BENNINGTON — School administrators may have found common ground on a salary proposal with the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union.

The entire contract is still being negotiated, and the negotiating team is continuing to work out details.

At a two-and-a-half-hour June 4 meeting involving multiple back-and-forth proposals, the Southwest Vermont Administrators Association was "tentatively agreeable" to a first-year base salary of $71,010, with a 2.5 percent increase each year thereafter, according to a copy of meeting minutes.

"I want to be really clear — the contract still has items to address," said Tim Payne, a member of the administrators association and principal of Mount Anthony Union Middle School.

The association covers building-level principals and associate principals; the 2.5 percent increase would apply to any principal or associate principal covered by the contract, Payne said.

Jim Culkeen, superintendent of SVSU, said he believes officials are close to a tentative agreement.

Most of the details are worked out, and hopefully they'll come to a tentative agreement as a result of a June 25 meeting at 10 a.m. at the central office, he said.

Negotiations, which he described as amicable, have been in the works for no more than two months, he said.

"I feel like we're being heard, and any proposals coming back are well-thought-out," said Payne of negotiations. "I think it's been constructive."

The negotiating team is in discussions about how long the new contract will be, he said.

Administrators are currently working under a five-year contract that began July 1, 2013.

Under the current contract, administrator salaries are based on a formula, which takes into account factors like degrees the administrator holds and their years of experience.

The base salary for administrators is the top of the teachers' scale from the previous year, according to the contract.

The top of the teachers' pay scale for 2017-18 is $70,135.

The contract was signed in December 2012 by representatives of the Bennington School District, Mount Anthony Union School District No. 14, North Bennington School District, Pownal Elementary School District and Shaftsbury Elementary School District, along with representatives from the Southwest Vermont Administrators Association.

The boards of the SVSU ratified a two-year teacher contract in August 2017, in which salaries would increase by 3 percent overall in both FY2018 and FY2019, the Banner previously reported.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BEN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext.118.

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