Teachers at the Dr. Lewis S. Libby School in Milford, line the hallway of the main entrance to campaign for a new contract ahead of a school committee meeting, Jan. 12, 2023. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Erica Spencer has taught language arts at the Dr. Lewis S. Libby School in Milford for nine years. 

But the veteran teacher, along with the rest of the teaching staff, feels frustrated and disrespected because they have been working without a new contract since the beginning of the school year.

Teachers at the Dr. Lewis S. Libby School in Milford — which serves students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade — have been in negotiations with administrators and the school board for a year to ink a new contract, but have not been able to agree, said Spencer, who is the president of the Milford Education Association, which represents the educators in the town. 

Negotiations with the one-building school district have hit a stopping point over the teachers’ proposal to raise wages inside the school, Spencer said.

While Spencer said she couldn’t share the specific increase requested due to ongoing negotiations, she said the increase would make teachers’ pay at the small school more competitive compared to other schools in the area and wouldn’t require raising taxes. 

“We just want to make people aware that we’ve been working without a new contract,” she said. “We just want respect. We want some support, and we want to be heard.”

Teachers at the Dr. Lewis S. Libby School in Milford, line the hallway of the main entrance to campaign for a new contract ahead of a school committee meeting, Jan. 12, 2023. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

About a dozen teachers and parents showed up for a Milford School Committee meeting Thursday night. During the meeting, Spencer told the school committee that a recent survey of the teachers found that 83 percent have considered leaving to work elsewhere. 

“At this point, we’ve been negotiating for a year and haven’t gotten anywhere,” Spencer told the board. “Please stop dragging this out. If you respect and support our teachers, meet us at the table and actually negotiate with us.” 

Mike Hildreth, board chairperson, replied to Spencer and said the board and the administration respect its teachers. 

“I just want to say that just because we haven’t come to an agreement doesn’t mean that anyone sitting at this table doesn’t respect or appreciate the work that you’re doing,” Hildreth said. “Not being able to agree all the time is just part of life. We’ll get there eventually. This weighs on us as much as it weighs on you.”

Dana Davis, a parent who attended the meeting, said she’s concerned about the negotiations and wants to see Milford teachers retained. She said three of her son’s friends have left the school to go elsewhere after at least two teachers have left the school. 

“I’m worried for our teachers, I’m worried for our students, I’m worried for my son,” she said.

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...