Still In A Stalemate – Contract dispute must be resolved before Winthrop Public Schools can move forward

The town’s contract stalemate with the Winthrop Teachers Association (WTA) took some twists this week as the two sides met in a marathon 6 1/2-hour session last Wednesday. But the progress from those negotiations came to an abrupt and surprising halt when the mediation session scheduled for Monday night was canceled, a move which no doubt perturbed the leaders of the teachers’ union.

We’re not sure of the reason for the last-minute cancellation, but some feel that the move was political in nature and that’s not a good development for either side. The teachers have waited patiently while the town dealt with the fiscal crisis that has affected all communities in the state (and Town Manager James McKenna, Financial Director Michael Bertino, and the Town Council deserve credit for getting the town’s financial house in order), but it’s time to sit down at the table and resolve this contract situation and do so as quickly and expeditiously as possible. Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Lisi said resolving the contract situation would be a top priority, but canceling a mediation session when the teachers are ready to talk is not the way to proceed.

Town Councilor James Letterie took the podium during the public comment period of Tuesday’s council meeting to weigh in on the contract situation. We believe Mr. Letterie is right on the mark when he says that the School Department cannot get started on the important work that needs to be done until the town resolves the contract issues with the Winthrop Teachers Association. Letterie said the School Department needs systemic reform and work must be done to improve MCAS scores. The councilor also said “parental involvement and strong schools are inseparable.”

Letterie did not take a stand on the contract issue, but in essence he was imploring the members of the School Committee “to move forward and come to a resolution before it is too late,” and it would appear as though our teachers, who go above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis, have the support of Councillor Letterie.

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