Teachers in Manchester headed back to work on Wednesday without a new contract.
The teachers' union has been at an impasse with the school board since June.
The sticking point is salary increases.
Sue Hannan, president of the Manchester Education Association, says that in March, the union submitted a proposal that would put Manchester salaries on par with districts in New Hampshire with good teacher pay. Hannan says it would have cost the city an additional $28 million over the course of three years.
The Manchester Board of School Committee instead proposed increasing the salary for new teachers to $40,000, and providing an annual .5% COLA (cost of living adjustment) for all teachers.
Hannan says this wasn't good enough.
"It doesn't keep up with tax rates; it doesn't keep up with anything," she says. "It really raises the question of how much the school board values its employees."
The union says it will not meet to negotiate other aspects of the contract until it receives a new salary proposal from the board.
School Board member Richard Girard disputes Hannan’s numbers, saying that the union requested $28 million over five years, not three, after its initial proposal was denied. Girard says when it comes to salary increases, the board's hands are tied. In Manchester, the Board of Alderman - not the school board - appropriate money. Girard says with declining revenue, it's impossible to match the unions' requests, and the union knows this.
"The idea that we're dragging our feet because it's financially to the benefit of the district is propaganda," he says. "We want to get a contract done, but we don't know how to get a contract done with a group of people that says it wants to negotiate, but cancels meetings [and] declares impasse."
The board and union have no date for continued negotiations.
Note: This post has been edited to include the disagreement between the Manchester Education Association The Manchester Board of School Committee over the terms of the proposal in March.