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Bargaining Table Gets New Faces

The Barrington School Committee selects Brennan, Recupero, Cascione, Scungio and McAllister to replace the superintendent at upcoming negotiations with the teachers' union.

A law firm has been selected by the Barrington School Committee to fill in for the superintendent at the bargaining table with the district's teachers' union.

Brennan, Recupero, Cascione, Scungio and McAllister was chosen from among three law firms that were interviewed after responding to a request for proposals.

Superintendent Michael Messore recused himself from bargaining with the National Education Association Barrington (NEAB) because he is married to a teacher at the high school.

Each law firm was interviewed in executive session, and School Committee Chairman Robert Shea said the board "had a couple of opportunities for conversation."

The vote for Brennan was unanimous, 5-0. Negotiations with representatives from NEAB are expected to begin soon. The current contract expires at the end of next June.

School Committee member Kate Brody, who made the motion to select the firm, said: "This firm has substantial experience in education law." She said it has two labor negotiators who utilize various negotiating styles.

"They have no specific philosophy regarding the type and style of collective bargaining," she said. "They will match their skill sets to the needs and requirements of their clients, which is really criticial for our district."

The bargaining next year will be the first time that a superintendent in Barrington has not been involved in negotiating a teachers' contract. Brody described this situation as "uncharted waters" for the School Committee and its teachers.

But the board remains committed, she said, to "working collaboratively" with the union and to continuing a relationship that has been built on mutual respect.

There will be "no change in the tenor of negotiations,” Brody said, even though there will be some new faces at the bargaining table.

Shea added that "we all recognize the firm's knowledge in this area and its  flexibility.”

He said the complete composition of the School Committee's bargaining team has not been determined. Business Manager Ron Tarro, who has been on the bargaining team in the past, will be on the team again with the law firm. A member or two of the School Committee may be added as well.

Negotiations are getting off to a much later start than is typical. They were put on hold until after the November election.

The expiration of the contract generally does not fall after an election year. But an extension by one year of the three-year contract negotiated in 2008 led to this situation.

The other law firms who responded to the RFP were Little, Medeiros, Kinder, Bulman and Whitney, and Robinson and Clapham.

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