Winchester Public Schools
338 Main Street · Po Box 648 · Winsted, CT 06098
Telephone: 860-379-0706; Fax: 860-738-0638
May 3, 2017
UPDATE REGARDING THE CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN WPS AND TGS
In March of this year, the CT State Department of Education Receiver to the Winchester Public Schools communicated to the Gilbert Superintendent/ Head of School that the Winchester Public Schools was willing to seek a two-year agreement with Gilbert for the 2017-2019 time period. On April 7, 2017, the Receiver was asked to approve a previous contractual agreement (2011-14) signed by the respective Chairpersons of both school boards, which the Gilbert Superintendent/Head of School described as a “simple contract”. The twenty-two page contract, which included a Special Education MOU and four pages of detailed language governing the many factors an arbitration panel would use to resolve a tuition dispute between parties. The arbitration language, which can best be described as onerous to the interest and finances of Winchester Public Schools and a benefit to TGS, was rejected by the Receiver.
On April 12, 2017, the Receiver shared Winchester’s proposals for a two-year agreement with the Gilbert Superintendent/Head of School. The proposal encompassed two separate documents: a general tuition, scope of services and designation agreement and a Special Education MOU. Counterproposals have been exchanged on two occasions, the most recent being April 26, 2017. The Receiver has not received a counterproposal from Gilbert School to the April 26th proposals.
The Receiver believes much progress has been made between April 12th and today. On review of the latest counter-proposal, Winchester and Gilbert School appear to have agreed to 13 of the 18 contract provisions in the general agreement, including language related to the length of contract, School Designation, TGS Board of Directors; Invoices; Joint meetings; Curriculum Coordinating Committee; Professional Development and Records and Reports. There is still work to be done on tuition and enrollment decreases/increases and Winchester’s need for student data and information and documentation from Gilbert School.
It should be noted that the first-year tuition amount in the two-year general contract is agreed upon at $ 6.475 Million. This represents an increase in tuition of $ 435,000 on Winchester’s part from its March 5 tuition proposal. It also reflects a decrease of $ 290,000 for TGS from their original tuition proposal of $ 6.766 Million.
With respect to the Special Education MOU, Winchester and Gilbert School appear to have agreed on 12 of the 21 contract provisions, including language related to responsibility for programming at Gilbert School, responsibilities of Winchester and Gilbert staff members, collaboration among all school professionals, professional development for certified and non-certified professionals, substitute coverage, and communication procedures. There is partial agreement on two of the four SRBI provisions, which have received some negative attention by the Gilbert Superintendent/Head of School. Some remaining areas for resolution in a two-year contract include space options for providing appropriate programming to all Winchester students enrolled at Gilbert School.
The Receiver believes a two year contract can be finalized within a week if the parties continue to work in a collaborative manner. Contrary to certain public statements made recently, the Office of the Receiver and the CT State Department of Education have not made any disparaging commentary regarding Gilbert School programming, as evidenced by their commitment to secure a two-year agreement with Gilbert School and making it the designated high school during the two year contract.
Members of the public can access available data on the Connecticut State Department of Education web site regarding every high school in the state, which includes such outcome data as SAT scores, four and Six Year High-School Graduation rates, College placements and SBAC scores.
CSDE Receiver for Winchester Public Schools