Barrington School Committee will interview three legal firms

The governor recently nominated Barrington School Committee member Patrick Guida to the state board of education. The governor recently nominated Barrington School Committee member Patrick Guida to the state board of education.

The Barrington School Committee will interview three law firms this month to help negotiate a new teachers’ union contract.

The firms include Little, Medeiros, Kinder Bulman and Whitney; Robinson and Clapham; and Brennan, Recupero, Cascione, Scungio and McAllister, all of which responded to a request for qualifications issued early last month. Director of Administration and Finance Ron Tarro said each firm met a set of requirements spelled out in the RFQ.

But before these interviews begin, School Committee Chairman Patrick Guida had a few remarks on the negotiation team and process.

For starters, he said there shouldn’t be any question that the School Committee is abdicating its responsibility. Mr. Guida said the board will remain firmly in control of a new contract with the teachers’ union or any other collective bargaining unit.

Mr. Guida also said it made sense to have “some extra help” with negotiations after Superintendent Michael Messore “voluntarily recused himself” from the process. One of Mr. Messore’s family members is also a district teacher.

The superintendent and business officer have traditionally lead negotiations with legal counsel called upon as needed and regular reports back to the School Committee. Mr. Guida said the School Committee still needs to discuss the “relative role” of those involved in the negotiation process though Director of Administration and Finance Ron Tarro will be involved.

Mr. Guida said Mr. Tarro has a “great deal” of “very valuable” experience. He previously worked with two former superintendents on negotiating numerous collective bargaining agreements.

“We have a great deal of faith in both his experience and his judgment,” said Mr. Guida of Mr. Tarro.

Additionally, Mr. Guida said no substantive negotiations have commenced. Mr. Guida said the School Committee has traditionally attempted to ratify successor agreements well in advance of a prior contract’s expiration. Not only does this help with the budgetary process, Mr. Guida said, it avoids any last minute negotiations, stress or anxiety.

In 2008, however, Mr. Guida said the School Committee was criticized for approving a successor agreement prior to a new board taking office. Mr. Guida said there is value in the experience of a veteran School Committee handling a contract though the board wanted to recognize the merit of those arguments made four years ago.

The current teachers’ union agreement expires next summer.

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