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Andover and striking teachers resume negotiations after failed weekend talks

Andover and striking teachers resume negotiations after failed weekend talks
Andover and striking teachers resume negotiations after failed weekend talks 02:10

ANDOVER - There was no school in Andover Monday as the teachers strike dragged into a new week.

The apparent sticking point is the size of pay increases over the next few years. The town says it can't afford what the teachers want.

The union and the school committee talked all weekend but failed to come up with a new deal. Negotiations resumed Monday.

"We're deeply disappointed, we feel that this is not a serious negotiation, that this was a tremendous waste of everybody's time," Matt Bach, the president of the Andover Education Association, told reporters Sunday night.

The teachers want better pay for themselves and instructional assistants, expanded paid parental leave and increased recess for elementary school students.

The school committee said it has offered raises for teachers and aides, but if they go any higher their budget "would be unsustainable and would result in layoffs." The town said it would also have to reinstate bus fees and cut sports and arts programs.

"They have decided that the difference between our proposal and their proposal, which is about $260,000, is a bridge too far for them," said Bach.

"The fact is, we are not negotiating only one-year contracts. The School Committee's responsibility is to negotiate contracts that are financially sustainable for each year of the contract. We are negotiating two multi-year contracts. We must ensure we can fully fund each year of each contract before agreeing to full successor contracts," the school committee said in a statement.

"The reality is if they want to allocate the money, they can allocate the money," said union vice president Julian Giloria.

"We cannot responsibly approve a contract that ties the hands of the district and the town for years to come, and requires both the district and the town to consider significant budget cuts that will negatively impact teachers, students, families, and other town residents," the committee said.

The strike has now cost Andover two days of school since it was announced last Thursday night. There are more than 5,500 students in the district. 

"It needs to happen I guess. It's been this long that they've been going without their pay raise and teachers do a lot of work for these people and both my kids are on IEPs so I totally understand the IA's needing more money," parent Amanda Burke told WBZ-TV. "It's a little unfortunate. I understand what's going on and I understand why it's happening but my kids both want obviously to be in school."

Teachers' strikes are illegal in Massachusetts and the school committee has gone to court to shut it down.

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