Board settles with teachers’ union

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The Essex Westford School District has settled on a two-year contract with its teachers, signaling the end of a 13-month negotiations process.

Terms of the agreement will be released once the deal has been ratified by the board and teachers’ association, board chairwoman Martha Heath said in a statement.

Though both sides declared impasse back in July, they publicly voiced no frustrations amid the stalemate over salary and health benefits, bearing little resemblance to the heated jousts in other failed negotiations around the county.

The contracts needed to address differences in salary schedules, professional development reimbursements and health benefits found in EWSD’s two former districts’ contracts.

Then, in August, the two sides learned the district can expect about $815,000 less in funding over the next two years as part of the state’s pursuit to save millions in school employee health insurance costs.

Union reps admitted those numbers were larger than they had expected, and Heath said at the time the board should try to achieve those savings through the negotiations process.

Essex Westford Educators Association co-presidents Jennifer Letourneau and Jessica Psaros said in a statement the union is pleased to have reached the settlement and looks forward to holding a ratification vote “in the near future.”

Kim Gleason, who led negotiations for the board, said it planned to ratify the contract at its next regularly scheduled meeting on October 17.