BELCHERTOWN, Mass. (WWLP) – “Trying to get the word out there to people in the community with negotiations.”
Teachers in Belchertown are frustrated. As parents dropped off their students Wednesday morning at Swift River Elementary School, teachers lined the entrance of the school, dressed in red, staging a “walk-in.”
Their spokeswoman, Cassie Fitzpatrick told 22News they’re, “Trying to get the word out there to people in the community with negotiations.” The teachers’ union contract negotiations began in January, but have become so stalled lately, they’ve had enter mediation with the Belchertown School Committee and superintendent. Fitzpatrick said typically, negotiations end in early fall, and there hasn’t been a stalemate like this in over thirty years. She explained, “There is language in the contract that is I guess a little unfavorable to teachers, some issues around scheduling, around how we’re being allowed to use planning time.”
22News was notified that the teacher walk-ins would not just be at Swift River Elementary School but all elementary schools in the district at 8:15 Wednesday morning, and an hour before that at 7:15 at Belchertown High School.
Superintendent Karol Coffin and School Committee Chair Dawn French sent 22News this joint statement:
“”The School Committee has made a fair salary offer, but it would be irresponsible to negotiate in the press. The teachers union refused to schedule another session with us at our last meeting, so we are hoping that the teachers will return to the table and resume negotiations. Please know that the School Committee and the District will always first and foremost place students at the center of our decisions.”