DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

July 11, 2013

Teacher assistant contract stands after recount

Wins by 3-vote margin

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — DERRY — The vote was close so two town councilors wanted ballots counted again.

The outcome was the same.

Town Councilors Mark Osborne and Tom Cardon called for a vote recount for the school district’s paraprofessional and teacher assistants union contract election.

The recount resulted in a 356-353 vote, one vote different from the original vote of 356-352 on June 25.

Voters rejected the original union contract at the polls in March. The contract was renegotiated by school and union officials with a new version brought forward at the polls at a special election last month. The new contract passed.

But some said that vote was too close.

Osborne and Cardon delivered a formal petition requesting a recount to the school district office July 1. The recount had to, by law, take place within 10 days of receipt of the petition.

Osborne said the close vote called for a recount.

“A lot of people called me, given the close totals,” he said. “Having the recount was the right thing to do. It also shows the people in town that councilors care about what everybody else is doing. We are affected. Our taxes go up, too.”

He said it was also a good faith move that town councilors showed an interest in school district business. He and Cardon attended the recount Monday evening.

Cardon said the people who voted against the contract on June 25 deserved to be heard. That’s why he agreed to support the recount.

“If I had lost the last election by four votes, I would have requested a recount, too,” he said.

The new three-year agreement gives members a 10-cent raise the first year, 15 cents the second year and 15 cents in the third, costing about $27,000 less than the original agreement.

The positions covered in this union include educational assistants, special education assistants, kindergarten aides, and library, computer and reading assistants.

Both Cardon and Osborne said they hope the school district works harder to level fund its budget and give taxpayers some relief.

“The best way for the schools to show good faith is to follow the Town Council lead and level fund their budget next year,” Osborne said.

He said he would like to see the school district step up and become more fiscally responsible.

“We (as councilors) fought really hard to try and balance town expenses,” he said. “Has the school done that?”

School Board member Ken Linehan said it was good to go through the process.

“It also shows that your vote matters,” he said.