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Lowell Schools Reach Preliminary Pact with Administrators

January 18, 2018 GMT

LOWELL -- The school district has reached a preliminary deal with the administrators’ union on a four-year contract that includes several long sought-after concessions, including the elimination of sick time buy-back.

In exchange for an 8 percent raise over four years, beginning retroactively in 2017, the Lowell School Administrators Association’s negotiators have agreed to cap sick time buy-back for current employees at $20,000, The Sun has learned. New hires will not be eligible to receive payouts for their unused sick time. In the past, some administrators have received sick time buy-back worth more than $50,000 when they retire.

“I’m very happy with the way they worked collaboratively with us,” said Superintendent Salah Khelfaoui, speaking generally about the proposed contract. “I think it’s the beginning of a really good new relationship with them.”

The LSAA, which represents around 200 employees, including guidance counselors, social workers, assistant principals, and department chairs, among other positions, must still approve the contract. The union recently rejected a previous proposal.

LSAA President Lyndsey Killilea, who works as a school social worker, declined to discuss the specifics of the contract until after her members had voted on it. A date for that vote has not yet been set. If the union ratifies the pact, the School Committee then votes on it.

“I’m happy and I do think that this contract does show some value and worth for LSAA members,” she said.

Mayor Bill Samaras also declined to comment on the details of the proposal until after the LSAA votes.

As part of the deal, the LSAA has agreed to drop all its grievances against the district, according to people familiar with the negotiations. The proposed contract also includes a provision that limits LSAA members to taking their vacation time during the summer months when school is not in session.

The 8 percent raise over four years offered to the LSAA is similar to the deal reached with United Teachers of Lowell, the union representing teacher, which received 9 percent over four years.

The LSAA has traditionally negotiated to model its contracts after the UTL’s, although some school administrators and School Committee members have expressed desires to separate the two bargaining units.

In the fall, the LSAA rejected a contract proposal that spanned three years instead of four. Had that deal been accepted, the LSAA would have had to negotiate a new deal before the teachers union.

Follow Todd Feathers on Twitter @ToddFeathers.