Head ‘em off at the impasse
by Ann Quenin
If you drove through the town center last Friday afternoon, just after school let out, you would have seen a number of people lining the road, brandishing signs and waving to passersby. It seemed strange, since there is no town election on the horizon, until one got close enough to see some familiar faces from the Carlisle School and to read the signs that said “Fair Contract NOW” (see related story, page 1).
Carlisle Public School teachers have been working without a contract since July, 2018. When collective bargaining did not work, for the first time in forty-odd years, the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) filed for mediation with the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations. The mediator has facilitated two meetings and has another scheduled at the end of the month. So far, no compromise has been reached. The teachers may have other, more draconian, options. Massachusetts law prohibits them from striking, but they could stage a walk-out or a call-in-sick day. To their credit, neither of these options has been threatened, much less deployed. Either would cause consternation, for children and parents as well.
The CSC has the unenviable task of trying to balance the school’s budget (cut once again by the Finance Committee) and giving the teachers a fair and equitable contract. All parties engaged in this labyrinthine negotiation must be aware that the Carlisle Public School has a prime reputation, usually the principal reason people with young children move here in the first place. Last year CPS had a higher percentage of experienced teachers than Concord or CCHS.
The longer this impasse persists, the more likely it will damage relations between two very important entities in our town, leaving good-hearted, well-meaning people disaffected. In turn, that could put the next new contract (three years from whenever the current contract is signed) further out of reach.
There is far too much divisiveness in our world right now. For the sake of the students, for the sake of comity, please, somebody blink. ∆