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Voters Seek To Take Back Raises From Nationally Recognized Teachers

July 3, 1986

HAWLEY, Mass. (AP) _ Residents of this tiny Berkshire Hills town have voted to roll back state- funded raises to elementary school teachers, who were recognized nationally for outstanding teaching.

But school officials in the Hawlemont School District, which gets its 145 pupils from Charlemont and Hawley, say the vote came too late because paperwork already has been submitted for a state grant aimed at bringing teachers’ salaries up to the recommended state minimum of $18,000.

″The vote is meaningless,″ said Raymond Poudrier, school committee chairman. ″It’s most unfortunate (voters) have given the teachers the message they did.″

Residents rescinded approval of the grant request by a 45-33 tally Wednesday. On Monday, federal education officials cited the Hawlemont School as one of 270 outstanding elementary schools in the United States.

Opponents of the raise questioned the large salary jump, saying the state had agreed to finance the raises for only two years.

Four of the 10 teachers in the district made $13,300 last year and the highest paid got $17,300 with nine years of experience and a master’s degree. The Massachusetts Teachers Association has described Hawlemont’s pay scales as the lowest in the state, where the average is $24,500.

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