By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - Superintendent Lester Butler on Wednesday submitted his resignation to the SAD 46 directors effective no later than November 2006. That date coincides with the last year of his five-year contract with the district he joined in 2001. "It was a decision I have been contemplating for some time, and I really feel now is a good time in my life to be able to do that," Butler said Thursday.
Butler said he has not yet determined whether he will retire this year, next year or in 2006, but wanted to give the board warning that he intended to move on.
If Butler retires in 2006, he will have served 31 years in education. He said his future may include education or other interests.
Also at Wednesday's meeting, directors authorized Butler to have the board's attorney assist the SAD 46 negotiations committee with its response to the SAD 46 Education Association's request for arbitration. The district and the association are at odds over salaries and health benefits for last year and this year and a so-called zipper clause included in the contract. The latter clause, which the association wants removed, closes the contract to any negotiations during the contract period. The association now wants to proceed to arbitration.
"As a teacher who enjoys working in MSAD 46, I find the delay in having a completed contract to be unsettling," Sandy Jarzabek, head teacher and fourth-grade teacher at Exeter Elementary School, told directors Wednesday in a prepared statement.
"To work under an incomplete contract makes it more difficult to focus our full attention where it should be, which is on our students," she added, urging directors to work toward a settlement.
A similar statement was made Wednesday by Eileen Levasseur, a fifth-grade Dexter Middle School teacher, who said that to have the best possible school system for the students, it is necessary to have a fair and reasonable contract.
"To retain our experienced staff, we need a contract that is respectful of the years of dedicated service they have provided for the students of the district and the commitment they have made to our local society," she said in a prepared statement.
In an effort to solve their differences and reach a compromise, the association and the SAD 46 negotiations team have gone through mediation and had the matter presented to a three-member fact-finding panel. The recommendations from the fact-finding panel, which consisted of a representative for the district, another for the association and a neutral party, were supported by the association but were rejected by the district's negotiators.
That panel recommended a 3 percent salary increase in each of the final two years of the agreement with no additional step increases added to the salary scale. It also recommended that contributions by the board to health insurance premiums be reduced to an amount representing 80 percent of the premium cost of the standard plan at each level of participation starting Sept. 1, 2004.
SAD 46 presently pays 87 percent of the premium for each teacher up to full family coverage for the standard plan.
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