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Mascenic School District

School budget passes by a landslide

Contract agreements for teachers, nurses and support staff also approved

Voters had their say in New Ipswich on Tuesday.

Voters had their say in New Ipswich on Tuesday. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

NEW IPSWICH — Budget and teacher contracts passed in both New Ipswich and Greenville this year.

The school budget is set at $17,863,771, passed overwhelmingly by a 745-98 vote.

The district was attempting to pass contracts for both the district teachers and nurses, as well as the support staff, which includes paraprofessionals. The Mascenic Education Association and the school district reached an agreement on a two-year contract which passed 509-451 at the polls. The vote was close in New Ipswich, with residents supporting the contract by only 20 votes, and a little wider in Greenville, with a 118-80 vote. This year, teachers and nurses will see a $323,394 increase, and in the 2015-16 year, a further $337,960.

The contract agreement reached between the district and the Mascenic Educational Support Staff Association also passed in a 508-437 vote. The contract only addresses the coming school year, and includes a $231,717 increase.

Tara Sousa, a Greenville representative on the School Board, noted while campaigning at the polls on Tuesday that since she was running unopposed this year, it has been her priority to ensure that the teacher’s and support staff contracts pass.

“We unfortunately have a bad reputation for being a poor paying district,” said Sousa. “We went into negotiations with a goal to address the salary structure for the teachers.”

Among the adjustments made in the new contracts are a smoother pay increase scale for teachers and nurses, and including full-time paraprofessionals in the district’s health care, as is now required by the Affordable Care Act. Sousa said the School Board had considered other options than providing health care to their paraprofessionals, including cutting hours so that the paraprofessionals were no longer considered full-time. However, she said, that seemed detrimental to both students and educators. Instead, the district’s superintendent took a look at whether the time of the district’s current staff was being utilized optimally. This process did result in the reduction of two paraprofessional positions, noted Sousa.

Sousa added that the cost of the contract reflected the highest possible cost — taking into account the possibility of every paraprofessional in the district opting to enroll in the district’s plan. The final actual cost, she said, may be lower.

The district approved setting aside funds for two capital reserve accounts — $50,000 for the Special Education capital reserve and $35,000 for school repair and maintenance.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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