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GROTON — After months of negotiations, members of the Groton Dunstable Regional School Committee voted last week to ratify a new three-year labor contract with the district’s teachers’ union.

“I am happy with the outcome of this negotiation,” said School Committee Chairman Charles McKinney. “I think this agreement strikes a reasonable balance between the school district’s goal of containing health care costs while recognizing that teachers are a vital asset to our district.”

The new contract with the Groton Dunstable Educators Association will be retroactive to September 2005 and extend to Aug. 31, 2008.

Under the agreement, the district’s teachers will be entitled to a 2 percent raise in the first year of the contract, a 2.75 percent increase in its second year, and a 3.25 percent increase in its final year.

The teachers also agreed to pay 21 percent of their HMO health care premiums and an increase in co-pay amounts beginning in the next contract year.

“It took us time to find common ground, but we reached a mutually acceptable agreement that works for both the teachers and the district,” said association President Carolyn Scafidi.

Over the course of negotiations, which began informally over a year ago and more earnestly in April 2005, Scafidi said the district’s recent struggles with increasing costs in its operating budgets over the last few years did not have an influence on the final settlement.

Everyone involved in the negotiations worked extremely hard, said Scafidi, and a good deal of time and research was required.

“There was a lot of hard work put in by quite a number of people,” said McKinney.

According to Scafidi, the union represents about 225 teachers in the district.

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