, Salem, MA

Local News

July 17, 2013

Saltonstall change could sway votes in election

SALEM — The School Committee meeting had just broken for a brief recess Monday night when Ward 5 City Councilor Josh Turiel approached a reporter.

“Time to replace all of them,” said Turiel, who was clearly upset after a 4-3 vote by the School Committee to end the 190-day, extended-year schedule at Saltonstall School.

Yesterday, Turiel, a Saltonstall parent, continued his criticism of a majority of the school board in a post on his Facebook page: “There are three serious, credible challengers to the (School Committee) seats that are up this year, and I will, personally, give them all my enthusiastic support.”

If there is fallout from Monday night’s vote, it could be felt this election year. There is a preliminary election Sept. 17, followed by a final election Nov. 5.

Three school board members are running for re-election, including two who were leaders in the move to end the longer year at Saltonstall — Brendan Walsh and Janet Crane.

The third incumbent, Lisa Lavoie, voted to keep the 190-day schedule.

The three so-called credible challengers — Patrick Schultz, Katie Casiglia and Rachel Hunt — all spoke Monday night in favor of keeping the extended-year program at Saltonstall, so it’s hard to imagine that won’t be an issue in the upcoming election.

Politics aside, the most immediate impact of Monday’s vote is on the Salem Teachers Union, which must sit down with school administrators in the next few weeks to begin negotiating new contract language for Saltonstall teachers, who are paid a 16 percent stipend for working longer days and a longer school year. Saltonstall is in session an hour longer every school day.

“At this point, there are more questions than answers,” Teachers Union President Joyce Harrington said yesterday.

At an earlier school board meeting, Harrington warned about taking this action so late in the year, saying the decision raises contract issues for teachers that will take awhile to resolve.

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