School Committee OK’s 1-year contract extension with teachers, calls for vaccines

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The Hopkinton School Committee agreed Thursday to a one-year contract extension with the Hopkinton Teachers Association calling for a 2 percent raise through the end of the 2021-22 school year.

With so many issues facing the district, superintendent Carol Cavanaugh said that an extension now would provide more time later to negotiate a “nice, thoughtful three-year contract” that could look more closely at issues such as how teacher stipends are allocated.

The extension was ratified by the HTA prior to the School Committee vote.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the School Committee agreed by a 4-1 vote to support a resolution calling for teachers to be named a top priority for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Given the unique and critical role that our pre-K through 12 public education system plays in the functioning of our community, society and our democracy, it is critical that teachers and pre-K through 12 staff be prioritized in the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine,” the resolution reads in part. The resolution was put forward by committee chair Amanda Fargiano.

The resolution also asks the state legislature, Gov. Charlie Baker and the state Department of Public Health to designate weekend hours and extended evening hours for vaccine distribution for all pre-K through 12 school personnel. These vaccines should be distributed at a local school or community facility, the resolution reads.

Committee member Joe Markey cast the sole vote against the resolution, saying the committee is “stepping a little outside our domain if we get into state policy on vaccinations.”

He said that he “likes the idea” of prioritizing teachers and noted that Cavanaugh already has raised those concerns with local legislators.

But he said the resolution could “create the impression that our schools are somehow unsafe, when nothing could be further from the truth.” Such a resolution, he said, “could put us in a position of delaying a reopening.”

Committee member Lya Batlle-Rafferty disagreed, saying the resolution serves as a show of support for the district’s employees.

“There’s nothing wrong with saying we want them to have every available means to be sure they’re healthy,” she said.

The School Committee also approved a contract with the MetroWest YMCA for the before-school and after-school care program for 2022 to 2024. The agreement would result in $331,000 to be paid to the Hopkinton schools.

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