CUMBERLAND – At least one level of uncertainty is out of the way for the 2021-2022 school year, as local teachers are now operating under a new three-year contract.

The Cumberland School Committee two weeks ago voted unanimously to approve a contract also approved overwhelmingly by the Cumberland Teachers’ Association membership.

Member Denis Collins said it was “very important to start the year off right.” School officials don’t want to start any school year in a labor dispute, said Collins, a teacher himself, especially a year such as this one.

Collins said one of the most exciting aspects of the new contract is that it makes Cumberland the first district to offer paid maternity and paternity leave for two weeks, an “excellent” addition. This is a “great, great way to start the year,” said Collins, who noted that he’s been part of labor issues himself and it’s not a fun environment to work in. The district can now turn its eye to education and students, which is most important, he said.

Members thanked those who participated in negotiations, including union representatives, school attorney Stephen Adams, member Mark Fiorillo, Supt. Philip Thornton, Human Resources Director Katie Duncanson, and Business Manager Alex Prignano.

Cumberland Teachers’ Association President Kerry Carlson said members are pleased to have reached an amicable agreement.

"The contract was a collaborative effort to help make sure each and every student reaches their potential," she said. "The CTA will continue its efforts to improve schools and classroom conditions, delivery of instruction and making sure each child has access to the technology, support, and curriculum they need. As educators, we are passionate about what we do, we are purposeful in our work and we will continue to advocate for progress."

School officials weren’t providing a copy of the contract or detailing its contents until it was officially finalized and certified this week.

According to a source, there is a 1 percent increase in year one, in the form of a pre-Christmas bonus, and then a pair of 2.5 percent increases in each of the next two years. Sick days are also increased. The contract did not appear to include increases in co-shares or deductibles, said the source.

School board member Paul DiModica, whose wife is a teacher in the district, said during last week’s meeting that this is a good contract and he, like others, said he’s comfortable after getting the fiscal note and learning from Prignano that the contract’s impact down the road won’t be too great.

“We gave a little and we got a little, and that’s the way it is,” he said.

This is the second time in a row that a new contract has been in place in time for the start of school, noted DiModica.

“Happy employees help us,” he said, noting that last year was a tough year for every teacher in the district.

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