Vote yes on Epsom teacher, support staff contracts
As the school board representatives who negotiated our proposed contracts with the Epsom Teachers Association and Epsom Support Staff Association, we ask that you please support those contracts – with a yes vote on Articles 2 and 3 on the school district warrant – Tuesday, March 21, at Epsom Central School.
The conversation regarding local education often centers on cost, which is understandable as we each annually grapple with our tax bills. But we hope that you will instead consider putting the focus on “value” when you cast your vote on Tuesday.
Value, of course, factors “benefit” into the equation, and Epsom educators have consistently provided a top-level scholastic benefit to our community – whether you’re basing your definition on a more subjective eye test on a tour of the school, or a more objective testing assessment, which regularly finds our school nearer the top of the elementary school charts than the bottom. The benefit is obvious to anyone who is paying attention.
And as to cost, you may be surprised. Though it may not seem it when you look at the “local school” portion of that tax bill, over the last decade Epsom has consistently ranked the lowest among the five towns within the SAU (Allenstown, Chichester, Deerfield and Pembroke) for elementary school cost per pupil. Of the last 10 years recorded by the New Hampshire Department of Education, Epsom has been the lowest nine times, and second-lowest the other. And only once in those 10 years has Epsom’s per pupil cost been above the state average – by $179 in 2013-14.
That said, our teachers and support staff are asking for what we consider to be fair salary/benefit increases over the span of the proposed contracts: 3 percent, 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively, in the three years of the teacher contract; and 3 percent and 2.5 percent in the two years of the support staff contract.
Additionally, both bargaining units have agreed to increased incentives for their members to forego the insurance plans in place of a buyout, which in each case represents thousands of dollars in savings to the school district.
These are by no means break-the-bank contract proposals, and for that reason both have been supported not only by the school board but also by your Epsom Budget Committee. We thank the members of that committee for their endorsement, and we thank you in advance for your vote.
DAVE CUMMINGS and GORDON ELLIS
(The writers are members of the Epsom School Board.)