Democracy at work: New Hampshire residents vote down teacher contract

Mar 12, 2013 by

PEMBROKE, N.H. – The “Live Free or Die” state of New Hampshire has effective way of keeping the financial demands of school employee unions in check.

After a local school board establishes a budget or negotiates a new contract with its teachers union, local voters have the power to accept or reject the agreements.

How refreshing is that?

The practice stands in stark contrast to most states in which voters’ influence over labor deals or school spending is indirect and limited largely to school board elections.

Voters in the Pembroke School District are the latest New Hampshire residents to use their power to put the brakes on ever-growing labor costs in their school budgets.

The district’s proposed teachers’ contract contained salary and benefit increases totaling nearly $1 million over two years. A majority of voters didn’t think that was appropriate, given the rocky financial times.

“Pembroke voters rejected a two-year teacher contract by a ballot vote of 90-75 … sending the school board and teachers’ union back to the bargaining table,” reports the Concord Monitor.

During the spirited debate, one resident “held up graphs showing that the budget continues to increase as student enrollment declines and that Pembroke’s tax rate is near the high end statewide,” reports the Monitor.

Supporters of the proposed contract argued that Pembroke’s approximately 150 teachers were already earning less than their peers in nearby districts, and that denying them wage and salary increases would make it difficult to retain the best educators.

The majority of voters obviously didn’t buy it.

The Union Leader reports that “the Education Association of Pembroke and the school board will be forced to meet again to negotiate a new contract proposal to bring before voters.”

via Democracy at work: New Hampshire residents vote down teacher contract – :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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