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School Committee Ratifies Teacher Contract

The Committee voted 4-1-2 to approve, with David Keele dissenting and Judy Culver abstaining due to a conflict of interest.

In a 4-1-2 vote Monday night, the proposed teachers' contract recently approved by the Westford Education Association was also ratified by the Westford School Committee, making the contract now official.

 "(This) allows us to move forward and get back to the business of educating kids,” said School Committee chairwoman Angela Harkness, who joined School Committee members Erica Kohl, Margaret Murray and Terence Ryan in voting to confirm the contract.

Harkness thanked the public and the classroom teachers for getting through the difficult year of contract negotiations. She asked the public for their continued support when discussing finances in the upcoming years.

Judy Culver abstained from voting due to her daughter’s job as a teacher in Westford. David Keele was the lone dissenting vote due to the addition of a third year to the contract, added so that the contract would be more palatable to teachers thereby breaking the stalemate.

“There’s tremendous economic uncertainty. Placing the third year component (in the contract) puts us in an unenviable position," argued Keele. "We are placing ourselves in a situation where we will be facing significant cuts. Because of that I will not support this contract."

School Committee member Arthur Benoit was not in attendance.

The contract was approved as negotiationes resumed following an earlier contract agreement that was not ratified by the teachers' union .

Bennies July 07, 2012 at 06:09 AM
I question the word unwarranted my cowboy friend
Martin Luther July 07, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Unless individuals are willing to produce evidence to the contrary, all criticisms of Olsen, Antonelli, and town officials is unwarranted. If you have evidence to the contrary post a letter to the editor making your charges public with evidence to substantiate them.
Alex Finnegan July 08, 2012 at 06:25 PM
"Short term funds~ $13 million expenditures that were not considered by the Westford Finance Committee or the Westford Town Meeting. The use of the funds was done back door without consideration of future impact. I suggest you get a copy of the expenditure of FSF money in Westford" Who is responsible for that and why do you have no beef with them. What does that have to do with teachers? "Since I am not lawyer, I suggest that you contact the Office of the Attorney General for specific penalties." Since you are not a lawyer & don't know what would happen why did you say "Ms Culver had to recuse herself or face legal penalties." "I have been informed that the State Ethics Commission would also have interest in the case." Ok, but you don't know. Just to be clear you really don't know what would happen. "BTW To the best of my knowledge, Ms Culver has always recused herself on votes that would impact her daughter." All of them would affect her daughter. "I strongly reject your position that she should not be on the school committee. Ms Culver always does her homework and makes sure of her facts before speaking. In some instances, I disagree with her conclusions much like SCOTUS has generated many 5-4 decisions." And if someone recused themselves on the SCOTUS it would not be tolerated. That is what they are there for.
Alex Finnegan July 08, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Why are you electing someone to vote who has to recuse herself on some of the most important matters. You are voting to lose a vote, that makes sense "BTW Members of the School Committee are not elected to represent the teachers, their unions and various special interest groups. Members of the WSC are accountable only to the voters of Westford. In the last 3 years, WSC members standing for re-election have had no opposition which implies that the voters of Westford are satisfied with their performance." Nope, that is what you are inferring. There are a number of things it could mean. It could just mean no one wants to be on the SC. "Since you are not a resident of Westford, I would suggest you and your cronies stop the unwarranted attacks against Mr. Olsen, Mr. Antonelli, members of the WSC and Westford town officials in general." I'm not? Disqualifying arguments based on anything but there own merit is counterproductive. Were god himself (a resident of Heaven I would argue) to come down and offer solutions to the Westford problems I guess he would just be dismissed as a non-resident.
Martin Luther July 08, 2012 at 07:36 PM
"Were god [God] himself (a resident of Heaven I would argue) to come down and offer solutions to the Westford problems I guess he would just be dismissed as a non-resident." Cute but no Cigar Please note that the proper reference to the heavenly deity is God. In Answer to your question: Unless God is listed in the current voter listings, he would be a non-resident who could only address Westford Town Meeting by a 2/3 vote of the meeting. Once God had made his proposed solutions known to the meeting, it would required unanimous consent by town meeting members to consider voting on the God's proposed solutions. Of course someone could raise the issue of separation of Church and State which would require Atty Gen and SJC involvement. IMHO God would prefer for Westford to go to Hell to join you and the malcontents.
Martin Luther July 08, 2012 at 07:46 PM
"Since you are not a lawyer & don't know what would happen why did you say "Ms Culver had to recuse herself or face legal penalties." Because it is the law. Use you spare time in a useful manner, check out several of the cases of "Conflict of Interest" that have impacted Westford. The State Ethics Commission maintains a registry of cases in which penalties were imposed on state and local officials and employees.
Alex Finnegan July 08, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Could he post on the Patch? That is what I'm doing that you have a problem with. Let's not start the spelling war. I missed a capital letter on my iPad. I know you may think otherwise but your spelling and punctuation is often incorrect. I'll take one recent post as an example. Please note that the proper reference to that tobacco product is "cigar." There should also be a period following it. Otherwise you should not have gone to the next line and started with "Please" with a capital "P" "In Answer to your question:" Answer should not be capitalized. You also used the colon incorrectly there. "In answer to your question" is a fragment. "it would required" you need to either drop the "d" or place a "be" in there. Heaven and hell are not capitalized in almost all Bibles, yet all other proper nouns are. Therefore they should probably be left that way. We both made a mistake there. See how pointless this is. Truce. Do you have anything to say about the relevant points I brought up? I've posted them twice now.
Franklin July 09, 2012 at 10:25 AM
The 'accountability' for SC, Olsen, and Antonelli is not going to be impeachment or censure but rather the reality that they have nowhere near the staff support they once had. They have gone from being part of a team to a 'them' in a us vs them dynamic, and when people think that they are liked and respected brother I dont think so.
Vincent DiRico July 09, 2012 at 11:32 AM
https://www.google.com/search?q=recuse+SCOTUS+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) July 09, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Hey Vincent, there are a bunch of great URL shorteners out there, just for future reference. I recommend TinyURL.com, they're pretty good.
Martin Luther July 09, 2012 at 06:19 PM
"when people think that they are liked and respected brother I dont think so." I would settle for Mr. Antonelli, Olsen and the WSC being FEARED much like a Great White Shark is feared by seals and swimmers.
Sam July 09, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Does this pertain to all boards? I know of a ZBA member who voted on things for private entities in town in which a spouse was an active member of the entity. He acknowledged the fact there was a conflict but proudly stated it didn't matter because he had publicly noted the conflict and off he voted.
Dan C July 09, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Well maybe thats what we now have my cowboy friend, instead of a system built on trust and mutual respect we have one built on fear intimidation and 'heavy handedness' Great climate to foster a professional Learning community right Jay McTigue?
Bonnie July 10, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Why is it that "all criticisms of Olsen, Antonelli, and town officials is unwarranted" yet it seems to be encouraged in this discussion thread and others to criticize all teachers as a group including negative generalizations about teachers and broad sweeping comments about their intelligence and motivation for teaching? Perhaps with the ratified contract in place it is time to stop this diatribe against teachers as well as town officials and focus this energy on rebuilding. Have you never discussed a pay raise or promotion with your employer or asked for a better offer when accepting a new job? Was your discussion splattered across the front page of local newspapers and websites and the subject of lengthy blogs with everyone having an opinion as to whether or not you were deserving of your request? At the end of the day the teachers stood up for what they believed to be fair, equitable and comparable compensation. As one of many Westford taxpayers you exercised your rights and voiced your opinions on the subject. Have we not sufficiently raked the teachers over the coals or should we require them to wear hair shirts on a daily basis because they had the gall to stand up for themselves? Overall we have a great group of teachers that care about their students. Yes there are exceptions - as there are in any organization. It is time to move on.
Martin Luther July 10, 2012 at 05:48 PM
I work for the federal government so I do not get a say on my pay or benefits. The criticisms of the teachers was touched off when several posters threatened to retaliate against college applicants, athletics, after school clubs and activities if they did not receive a FAIR pay raise. IMHO Do not start using though tactics unless you can take the counter attacks. The problem with living in a Democracy is that basic right called Freedom of Speech.
Alex Finnegan July 12, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Again incorrect. The teachers response was to not receiving the contracted step increase. The first blow was not struck by the teachers, that is clear. I understand the sentiment you are trying to express, but there is no "retaliation" against college applicants et al. The teachers asked where are our step increases? The response was basically "you don't have a contract anymore, why would you expect one?" Ok, if we don't have a contract than we are not obligated to do these things. Who it affects does not change who is forcing the hand. And if it did, teachers would just get trampled on because it's going to affect children, that's why it's one of the few unions I think is still needed for everybody's sake. The teachers need for it is obvious, because that "you should do it for the kids" line will never get old and it will always be considered by the masses to be immoral not to "do it for the kids" But that ship is only going to float for so long, until finally the teachers hand you their stacks of tests, homework and assessments and say "Not anymore, here you go, now YOU do it for the kids" and you would have no rebuttal whatsoever. I mean what are you going to do, are you going to refuse the kids?
Martin Luther July 12, 2012 at 01:27 AM
I would reduce the present salary scales and hire young, energetic and competent individuals that is the way it is done in industry.
Alex Finnegan July 12, 2012 at 08:44 AM
lol, you crack me up. I'm very curious what 'industries' you know anything about. Can u explain how that process would fix the phenomenon I described above? Reduce salary scales. Good idea. Let's do that for other jobs requiring advanced degrees,say the superintendent. Olsen is old, experienced & highly paid, by your logic, replacing him with a a lower paid, younger, less experienced super would achieve superior results, right? I want my spine, heart or brain surgeon to be green & fresh. Experience is over rated. Remember when Sullie landed the plane in the Hudson river. He was an old, experienced ex-fighter pilot. I'm sure any young, energetic noobie could have done the same. If I ever end up in legal trouble I'm going to ask for a lawyer who is new to the court room. Experience & a successful track record doesn't come with age. & Everyone knows the best lawyers are the cheapest You know who are the safest drivers? Teenagers! Plumbers, electricians, engineers, nurses etc. In what field is experience a liability? In what career do you not progressively become more knowledgable, efficient & get rewarded for it? @ 10 years ago Westford hired a batch of young, new teachers. U know what happens? They get married, have kids, & mass maternity leaves. Now they're older & therefore less competent & knowledgable. U just going to unilaterally hire & fire a workforce every 10 years. Including your job? U going to stop teachers from aging? Brilliant.
Martin Luther July 12, 2012 at 04:28 PM
I worked for the following companies Raytheon, GE, LMT, Sensis and BAE and the following education enterprises, Lowell PS and Northeastern University. 1991 to 2009, Raytheon, GE, LMT and BAE all cut benefits and reduced pay for positions. My co-workers at Raytheon went without a pay increase for 4 years because their current salary exceeded the industry average. 
Experience is not over rated, in industry it has to do with deriving cost effective solutions that allows the company in the global market place which means hiring the lowest cost employee and eliminating higher cost employees from your labor costs. The above named industrial giants forced their labor model on their suppliers. 
 In 2004, New Venture Gear employees(union and non-union) were given a choice take a 30% pay and benefits or the Syracuse plant is being shut down. You have 2 weeks to give us a decision. The New Venture Gear employees responded within a week agreeing to the 30% pay and benefit cuts. 
 On the other side of Syracuse, Carrier A/C employees were not so fortunate; notwithstanding pleas by Gov. of NY and all NY congressmen and senators, Carrier shut down their plant and moved operations to Malaysia. In 2011, in response to POTUS Obama asking Steve Jobs when Apple was planning to repatriate some of the 470,000 jobs inChina to the US. Mr. Jobs responded "Never" 
The rewards of the free market place are based on bang per buck. Bang can be quality, price, service whatever the consumer wants.
Martin Luther July 12, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I have also accumulated over 6,000 flying hours in 4 engine transports and tactical aircraft so I speak with authority. Capt. Sully did a great job, a job every multi-engine pilot is required to be proficient in. In the AF pilot skills to do the landing on the Hudson would be achieved with under 500 hrs of operational flying experience (less than a year out of pilot school). POTUS Bush II a fully qualified in a F102, the supreme widow maker, and he had less than 200 hrs. of F102 flight experience. Back a couple of years ago, I engaged a legal gunslinger, representing the town in a case, in an extended legal engagement. After 7 days of trial and countless motions, I was declared the winner. The legal gunslinger was so upset at the actions of town officials that he allowed me to enter into the record 134 instances of willful perjury by town officials. At the conclusion of the case, a partner from Hale & Door asked to come in for an interview. He stated "I have never seen any attorney with your skills specially cross-examination." He then asked me "Why did you subpoena the town officials as your witnesses." I replied "If I can't break a witness down with direct, cross-examination and redirect, I do not have a case." Sadly, I informed the gentleman that I had never been inside a legal classroom. My knowledge of the law had been derived from my time in the AF negotiating contracts and Administrative Judge."I was also a combat trained medic and member of Mensa and Intertel.
Alex Finnegan July 12, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Answer my question about Olsen please? You can't connect youth & experience. Young = less experience. You are also marrying older and experienced with lazy and ineffective. I have seen that in my union experience, especially in government jobs. But it’s not true with all government jobs. It’s not true with teachers, it’s not true in the military. So you either contend that you did not become more proficient at your job as you gained experience, or that becoming more proficient should not be rewarded. It's inverse of the teenage driver example I gave above. Teenage drivers are the highest risk that’s why they pay the highest insurance rates. As they become less risk should their insurance cost not go down? You are thinking the laws of supply and demand will not hold true in this instance but I assure you they will. Good teachers will go to be paid what they are worth. If Westford wants to have such high expectations of it's teachers and schools and further reduce compensation your going to get less people applying here. You just shrank your pool of people from which to extract the young and gifted you’re seeking. You think that group will be clamoring to get in here? And the ones that do will be looking to get out as soon as they can setting up for a high turnover rate....
Alex Finnegan July 12, 2012 at 06:32 PM
A high turnover rate spreads to every other job it touches. Ie. Schools with a high turnover rate will have admin with a high turnover rate. That state of flux is when you are least productive, least effective & it’s self perpetuating. School performance drops, the socio-economic status you draw declines bringing property values with it, crime goes up & the municipality’s demise begins. Your business model is fraught w/fail points. I don't doubt your limited legal savvy, I see now why u dodge specific questions when caught in a contradiction. U either don't mention it again, introduce a new acronym, obscure quote, fillibuster a post w/no perceivable point or correct spelling. If you had been to law school perhaps you would be a lawyer & could back up your claim that Culver would face legal penalties for not recusing herself. When I ask what penalties your reply is basically "I don't know, look it up, I can't do your research for you.” Backing up your claims is not my responsibility. For such a gifted crossexaminer you respond to it poorly. Case in point, Olsen. You say he has done a great job. I think I remember you saying you would even give him a raise. Why does your “young, energetic, competent, salary lowering” plan not apply to him? How do you reconcile him doing a good job with a 30% ratio of bad teachers (your claim, don’t ask me to back it up) when he is responsible for those teachers? Judge, “Answer the question please Mr. James.”
Martin Luther July 12, 2012 at 08:54 PM
I have learned that answering idiotic questions lead to more idiotic questions. Olsen is a great Superintendent. A fact that is recognized by the only people that count, the Westford School Committee. I can assure you that my legal savy and integrity well above that of any licensed lawyer that you may know. You should stop changing the rules. At one point you state after a posting that was filled with misspellings, poor sentence structure and incorrect word use that you should not be judged on those items. You are right, if you want to remain ignorant you can refuse to self educate yourself on the ethic laws that apply not only to elected or appointed officials but to municipal employees. If you want to evaluate my abilities to cross-examine, commit a crime and I will be glad to cross-examine you. Please realize that being an idiot does not give a get out of jail card when you are sitting in the witness chair.
Jamaal July 12, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I would like to state my opinion that when it comes to Olsen being great and your assertion that the members of the Westford SC are the only ones that count; I greatly disagree with that. When staff (teachers) have no trust faith confidence in their leadership this counts too when measured by potential impact where it matters most : on the quality of education provided by WPS employees collectively. Yes he can order by force and that's where we are at
Martin Luther July 12, 2012 at 09:33 PM
" Young = less experience. You are also marrying older and experienced with lazy and ineffective. I have seen that in my union experience, especially in government jobs." You are right over 20 years and teachers have lost touch with reality. Bring on the fresh troops.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) July 12, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Okay....turning off auto-approve on this one too.
Alex Finnegan July 15, 2012 at 06:27 AM
"I have learned that answering idiotic questions lead to more idiotic questions. Olsen is a great Superintendent. A fact that is recognized by the only people that count, the Westford School Committee." My questions are very simple. I'm only asking you to reconcile your own statements. You said you would lower pay scales and hire young, energetic, competent people. You also say Olsen is a great SI & you would give him a raise. Why are you not going to lower Olsen's pay scale or just hire a new, young, energetic, competent SI? "I can assure you that my legal savy and integrity well above that of any licensed lawyer that you may know. " How do you define integrity? I would say taking someone's quotes out of context is the opposite of integrity wouldn't you? But look at how you quoted me here; "' Young = less experience. You are also marrying older and experienced with lazy and ineffective. I have seen that in my union experience, especially in government jobs.' - You are right over 20 years and teachers have lost touch with reality. Bring on the fresh troops." Now look at my actual quote; "I have seen that in my union experience, especially in government jobs. But it’s not true with all government jobs. It’s not true with teachers, it’s not true in the military."
Alex Finnegan July 15, 2012 at 07:15 AM
"You should stop changing the rules. At one point you state after a posting that was filled with misspellings, poor sentence structure and incorrect word use that you should not be judged on those items." It's about 17 comments up. What I said was let's not start the spelling/grammar war. I had never corrected someone's spelling or grammar on a forum in my life. You graciously corrected mine so I corrected yours to show you how futile it is. We all misspell words & make grammar mistakes. My rule is if you can interpret what the person is saying that's enough. Correcting people in that way just derails the conversation. Are we good on that now? "If you want to evaluate my abilities to cross-examine, commit a crime and I will be glad to cross-examine you"......
Alex Finnegan July 15, 2012 at 07:16 AM
There is no need we have a forum here. Aside from that what I said was that you respond poorly to C.E. So it would have to be you that commits the crime no? (is this the legal savvy you were talking about?) So in the chair you would plead the 5th. You won't answer the question about Olsen that I reiterated above. You also won't explain what legal penalties Culver would face by voting on the contract because her daughter is a Westford teacher. Everything she votes on affects her. YOU asserted she would face legal penalties. What penalties? Why on the contract but not other votes if the conflict of interest doesn't change. I just think if you can't back up your own statements, maybe just don't make them. I'll give you one more chance to answer the questions and then I'll drop them (without prejudice). Otherwise I've noticed the pattern, not necessarily from you, but some person will come on and start name calling etc and get the thread shut down & I don't want this to go there. But my interest in your answers is genuine...that's why I keep asking, so I figured I would give it one final shot. I respect your views but I also want to understand them and with those two points, I just don't.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) July 15, 2012 at 12:10 PM
This has also gotten out of control here. Comments are closed.

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