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23 Andover teaching positions cut months after strike ended with new contract

23 Andover teachers laid off months after strike ended with new contract
23 Andover teachers laid off months after strike ended with new contract 02:13

ANDOVER - It has been nearly five months since the Andover teacher strike ended and a new contract was put in place. But the aftermath continues to unfold for a town that prides itself on its public school system. 

As we sat in her Andover home, Katy Vives read the letter that was presented to her during school on Friday. "This is written notification that your position at Andover schools will not be filled." 

Changes will impact 9 of 10 Andover schools

The Andover High School social studies teacher had been informed that after eight years with the district her job was being cut. It is just one of 23 positions the Andover Education Association said it was made aware of. 

By the AEA's count, there are an additional 22 people being transferred and four teachers retiring. In all, the AEA said the changes will impact nine of ten schools in the district. 

Katy Vives Andover
Andover High School social studies teacher Katy Vives CBS Boston

"The whole situation was quite unnerving," said Vives. "Then I would have to go on to teach three more classes that day and I did not have it in me to do it. For them to say you are no longer needed here. For them to say this position is no longer available to you. I don't even really have words for how shocking it was." 

New contract increased teacher pay, benefits

In November, Andover teachers went on a multiday strike for a new contract that would end up increasing teacher pay, benefits for instructional assistants and more. Negotiations grew so tense a mediator from the state's Department of Labor had to come in to go back and forth between the two groups. 

During the strike, the Andover School Committee warned that if they agreed to the deal the Andover Education Association was seeking, it would contribute to a $2.7 million budget shortfall the following year. 

Andover teachers strike
Striking Andover teachers rally at Massachusetts State House CBS Boston

This issue was debated for months in public forums with parents and teachers speaking out against cuts. The school committee, which has since been modified following an election, continued to stress cuts were the only way to balance the budget. 

Vives, along with the AEA, said in a town like Andover they believed the money was there. 

"I do not believe there is a budget deficit," said Vives. "I believe there is money and if the town has the will to fund the schools, we have it." 

District reports drop in student enrollment

A spokesperson for the Andover School Committee said they could not comment on the specifics of the cuts to maintain strict confidentiality regarding the individuals affected.

However, they did point out the district has experienced a 12% drop in student enrollment in the last decade but maintained level staffing during that time. The spokesperson said they worked to minimize any impacts these changes would have on students and families. 

The union said those who were laid off will continue working through the remainder of the school year.

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