Council Approves Arbitrated Norwalk Teachers Contract

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NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Common Council Tuesday approved Tuesday the contract arbitration award between the Board of Education and the Norwalk Federation of Teachers.

The new three-year pact, which will take effect in July 2013, calls for a wage freeze in the first year, a 2.5 percent increase in the second year and a plan to reopen salary discussions in the third year.

Negotiations between the board and the union were particularly tense earlier in the year, due in part to a multi-million dollar shortfall in the education budget that contributed to layoffs of several teachers and administrators.

Council members voted unanimously to approve the arbitrated contract, which pleased Board of Education Chairperson Michael Lyons.

“I’m very happy with the result and the unanimous support from the council,” Lyons said following the meeting.

The contract also includes language that will give the superintendent more “discretion and flexibility” in reassigning teachers as the district begins to adopt a new common core curriculum.

Lyons added that the contract reopener in the third year was also an important victory for the board. “The objective for Year Three is to begin to rationalize the overall salary structure,” he said.

To that end, Lyons hopes the two sides will be able to hammer out changes to how Norwalk teachers are paid and the longevity provisions so that more money goes to younger teachers instead of larger sums going to older teachers toward the end of their careers.

Currently, the Norwalk system has 10-step increases – one step per year – but longevity payments do not begin to kick in until Year 17, which means teachers go seven years without some pay increases, something that shocked Council member Bruce Kimmel, a former New York City teacher.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Kimmel said.

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