Dr. Hayes has asked us to post the following note, which he also sent to Salem News, Beverly Citizen, and the School Committee. The note is in response to a request by the Salem paper to release terms of the teachers contract that was ratified by the teachers on Tuesday, but has yet to be voted on by the School Committee. The Committee is scheduled to take a vote on January 14th.
As you know, I have been asked by the Salem News to release to the press the terms of our Tentative Agreement with Unit A Teachers. The Agreement was ratified by the teachers on January 6th and the School Committee is scheduled to vote on January 14th. I will not release the Agreement or confirm any of its terms prior to the School Committee ratification vote. My decision to do so has absolutely nothing to do with the terms of the agreement. I believe it is a fair contract to both the teachers and the City. My decision has everything to do with preserving the process for negotiating contracts for our school system, now and in the future.
The negotiation of contracts is legally conducted in complete confidence between the two parties. That process only concludes when both parties agree to the terms presented. The parties in this case are the Beverly Teachers Association and the Beverly School Committee. If one of the parties does not ratify the terms of the agreement, then the parties will return to the bargaining table. The subsequent negotiations in accordance with the ground rules would not be conducted in public. That I believe the School Committee will vote to ratify this Agreement is of no consequence. As Superintendent, I need to preserve a process for the proper, effective, and legal negotiations of collective bargaining agreements. To release or confirm any information prior to the School Committee vote sets a bad precedent for our school district.
Dr. Jim Hayes
Superintendent of Schools>
1/10 UPDATE: Today's Salem News reports that it is appealing to the state supervisor of public records to obtain the contract that the union ratified Tuesday.
"The public should have the maximum amount of information possible about how citizen-elected representatives are spending money relayed to them by taxpayers," said Salem News attorney Robert Bertsche.
Hayes' note above states his reasons for not releasing the terms, in order to preserve "the process for negotiating contracts for our school system, now and in the future", but Bertsche said there's no reason why releasing the information would hinder negotiations.
"The public records law doesn't say you have to keep it confidential," he said.
1/13 UPDATE: Today's Salem News has an editorial on the controversy.