A sign is seen in the car parked in York in this York Weekly file photo. Credit: Deborah McDermott | The York Weekly

YORK, Maine — The teachers in the York School Department this week agreed to terms of a new contract, capping more than a year’s worth of talks that resulted in mediation and teacher frustration.

After a three-hour meeting, the York Teachers Association on Tuesday voted to ratify a new three-year agreement with the School Committee, said YTA President William True.

Terms of the agreement will not become public until after the School Committee ratifies the contract at its Dec. 5 meeting.

Teachers have been working without a new contract since the end of August, when the previous contract ran out.

[Teacher morale ‘very low’ as contract impasse drags on, union leader says]

Negotiations began in November, 2017, and the two sides met a total of 22 times, spending more than 60 hours in discussions. But in September, the School Committee said several issues remained outstanding and called for mediation.

Two mediation sessions were subsequently held, with tentative agreement reached in mid-November.

Although both sides have been precluded by law from speaking publicly about sticking points, True has intimated the breakdown came over salary increases.

Under terms of the expired contract, veteran teachers who have worked 14 or more years received a 3.25 percent COLA increase in the first year of the contract, as compared to 2.25 percent for those receiving “step” increases. Step increases for newer teachers, typically 2 to 3 percent, are provided in addition to COLA increases. In years two and three, step teachers received a 3 percent raise and veteran teachers, 4 percent.

The contracted salary increases came under fire in talks with the Budget Committee during the early months of 2017.

[Teachers agree to contract terms, but lament influence of ‘invisible’ committee over talks]

At one committee meeting in February that year, then-chairman Donald Lawton told the School Committee the contract was “one of the biggest problems with the whole school budget. It’s not a good way to do business and it’s driving increases that are just unreasonable.”

True said just recently that he felt the Budget Committee was an unseen third party at the negotiating table. Meanwhile, he said teacher morale this fall has been very low. Educators showed up in force at the polls on Election Day Nov. 6, carrying signs that expressed their frustration.

The School Committee meeting on Dec. 5 begins at 7 p.m. at the library. Superintendent Lou Goscinski is expected to unveil the 2018-19 school budget the same night.