TOWNSEND — North Middlesex Regional School District teachers approved a new contract that doles out raises over the next three years, but also doubles their contribution to their health insurance costs.
The School Committee still needs to approve the three-year labor agreement.
The new contract gives teachers a 4 percent raise this year.
Next year the teachers will receive a 3 percent increase, with a 4 percent raise in the final year of the contract.
The vote was 217 in favor of the contract and 45 against.
Currently the teachers only pay 10 percent of their health insurance cost, with the district picking up the other 90 percent. Starting next year, the teachers will pay 20 percent, dropping the district’s contribution down to 80 percent of the total.
The school teachers have been working without a contract since June 30, 2005. Some of the teachers picketed while the School Committee was interviewing for a new superintendent of schools at North Middlesex Regional High School in early April.
High school teacher Beth Hague said she feels the teachers voted “reluctantly” for the contract, as some felt this was the best they were going to get.
Hague said they might have done better.
”I don’t feel they gave us more,” Hague said, “they just redistributed it. With the cost of living going up, it’s not what some of us were hoping for. We have to pay more for our health insurance, so the raises don’t go very far.”
Another point in the contract is that the extended day of school on Wednesdays has been cut from every week to every other week. Teachers had been required to stay an extra hour after school on Wednesdays to offer help to students, but also to catch up on work they did not get done during the regular school day.
”This was more of a sticking point with the elementary and middle level,” Hague said. “The teachers felt this extra time every week was not being used to help the students, which is what they wanted it for. Being told there is extra work you have to do every week was not right.”
School Committee Chairman Theresa Morse said she hadnot been made aware of the final contract numbers at press time.
”I was told informally there was an agreement reached, but I was not made formally aware,” Morse said. “The committee will look at it, then we will vote.”