The educator’s union of Amherst-Pelham Schools and the school committee have been involved in a mediated negotiation model called Interest Based Bargaining since mid-December. Both sides found some areas of shared interest. The APEA entered into this bargaining mode with the shared understanding that cost of living increases would be prioritized first, in order to meet the town’s budget deadlines this spring.That understanding was preempted by a budget prepared without input from the APEA bargaining team, undermining the collaborative process that is the underpinning of successful Interest Based Bargaining. On Monday, February 14, the APEA Representative Council voted to move to a traditional bargaining model.
The APEA calls upon the Amherst community to keep and attract the highly-qualified staff needed to support students effectively at a time when educators are leaving the profession everywhere. The NEA (National Education Association), which represents educators nationwide, calls educator burn-out a “five alarm crisis,” with 55% of those surveyed in January indicating they were ready to leave the profession.
By valuing educators and school personnel with supportive working conditions, Amherst will be on the cutting-edge of communities around the nation facing similar challenges. This community, with strong APEA involvement, has led the way to maintaining safe schools that have remained in person even during the largest COVID surge. This community can now lead the way to valuing the front-line workers who support students every day.