After months of negotiations and a recently-filed lawsuit, the Stoughton School Committee voted last week to ratify the Stoughton Teachers Association contract.
The committee voted to ratify the contract, 4-2, at a special school committee meeting on Thursday, June 26, the STA announced Monday. The contract was previously deadlocked at a 3-3 vote in late May.
"Stoughton teachers have always wanted to settle a reasonable contract and focus exclusively on our students," said Andrea Pires, South Elementary School teacher and STA President in a statement. "Throughout the 15-month protracted contract negotiations, we always put our students first."
She added, "I am honored to represent dedicated colleagues who devote their professional lives to Stoughton students. The bond between teachers, students and parents is strong. We cannot overstate how meaningful the outpouring or parent support has been during these negotiations. I applaud the Stoughton teachers, Erdem Ural, Joe Soares, Katy Pina-Enokian and Carol Brown for voting to ratify this settlement and move our schools forward."
As part of last week's deal, the STA agreed to withdraw a pending lawsuit it filed in Superior Court against the town of Stoughton and the Stoughton School Committee regarding alleged unlawful withholding of step increases.
"From the beginning, we have said that we would not proceed with the lawsuit and would forego more than $1 million in penalties and fines against the town if we could come to terms on a fair contract," said John Gunning, O'Donnell Middle School teacher and incoming STA President. "The vote on May 27 to reject the tentative agreement with the new school committee team that was negotiated with the assistance of a private mediator caused the lawsuit to be filed, but we will honor our initial offer and withdraw the pending lawsuit."
School Committee Chair Dr. Erdem Ural also related his satisfaction over the deal on Monday.
"I am happy that the 15-month ordeal is finally over," he said in a statement. "This contract is a great deal for Stoughton. I am looking forward to a productive relationship between the School Committee and its employees."
Added Committee member Soares, "I want to thank the teachers for being very level-headed and very professional during the 15 months of negotiations. I know the teachers love their students and their jobs and would never compromise the children no matter what the reason. It is now time to make Stoughton schools better than they ever were."
Melanie Ingrao, a teacher at Stoughton High School and STA Negotiation Chair, referred to the contract as "modest and reasonable."
"The terms are in line or are less than the last three settlements negotiated with former school committee teams dating back to 2004," she said in a statement. "We're pleased to move forward and return in September with the negotiations resolved.”