More than 50 Andover High School faculty members voted by secret ballot Thursday, May 3, on whether teachers should participate in senior activities. A slight majority supported a decision to not chaperone senior week and prom, but attend graduation.
The vote, taken at a meeting of the Andover Education Association, was prompted by stalled negotiations between the Andover School Committee and the teacher’s union; teachers are in their second year without a revised contract.
Despite the decision, Mr. Hopkins, a social studies teacher, said, “I think people will just end up doing what they want at this point.”
Ms. O’Rourke, the senior class advisor, attended the meeting and said Monday that even after the vote, about six teachers approached her, saying that they will attend prom and senior week.
Most faculty are not paid for the extra time they spend at events outside of school, such as prom, senior week, and graduation. The class advisors will be attending prom and senior week because they are paid and are contractually obligated to attend. If there are not enough chaperones, the school will turn to substitutes and then parents.
“If we have to go to parents,” said Ms. O’Rourke, “underclassmen parents will hopefully step up.”
Mr. Shea, an English teacher, said, “We should concentrate on academics and I think it would be inappropriate for us to participate in these non-academic activities while the contract’s being negotiated and settled.” However, he added that the decision is devastating to him: “It’s incredibly painful and it hurts. This is my favorite time of the year to be with my students.”
Mr. Hopkins said this action will send a message to the school committee that the teachers are needed. He said even though the decision is hurting the students during senior week, this is for them and their education.
He and Ms. O’Rourke both said the biggest issue right now is the high school schedule. The school committee wants high school teachers to take on three classes each semester next year, rather than having only five classes in a year as they do now.
Ms. O’Rourke says the teachers are not boycotting end-of-year events because of anything the seniors have done but are doing it because they want a contract.
English teacher Ms. D’Alise said, “This vote was done with a heavy heart. It was not an easy decision to make. No one is happy about it and we are shocked that it’s come to this.”
Students Connor Cameron, Theresa Harkins, Jack Shea, and Lauren Wiener contributed to this report.