HomeWeekend Wrap-UpTeachers Stand-Out for Higher Pay, Net-Zero Roadmap, COVID-19 Regulations to Continue: Weekend...

Teachers Stand-Out for Higher Pay, Net-Zero Roadmap, COVID-19 Regulations to Continue: Weekend Wrap-Up


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WESTFORD — Welcome to the April 2 edition of Weekend Wrap-Up. Here, we highlight the most important news you may have missed this week in Westford.

Westford teachers stand-out for higher pay

Nearly 200 members of the Westford Education Association, the union representing Westford Public Schools educators and nurses, stood out ahead of Annual Town Meeting for higher wages.

Union contracts for Westford Educators are up for renewal by June 30, 2023. The contract for staff under Unit E, which represents teaching assistants, expired on June 30, 2022. Pay for teaching assistants tops out at $25,000 per year under the current contract.

A new contract has not been adopted between Unit E and the School Committee at the time of reporting.

“They need better and deserve better,” Westford Education Association President Kristine Jussaume told WestfordCAT.

“The School Committee is on our side. Our superintendent is on our side. But they keep saying we don’t have the money,” said WEA Vice President Heidi Hider.

Members of the School Committee spoke with union members ahead of the Annual Town Meeting.

“It’s always great to see our teachers. I did get a chance to stop and chat with several of them and look forward to continuing to work with them to keep our schools strong,” School Committee Chair Chris Sanders told WestfordCAT.

The School Committee submitted a statement to WestfordCAT on March 27 for publication with further information on active contract negotiations.

Second version of net-zero emissions roadmap released

The Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee recently unveiled the second iteration of its Westford Climate Roadmap.

During an October 2020 Special Town Meeting, a majority of voters approved a Climate Action Resolution that charged the town to limit its carbon footprint to net zero by 2050.

In November 2021, CEASC released the Roadmap framework to jump ahead of the Select Board’s approval. The Roadmap will need a commitment from the Town, residents, and businesses for the next 30 years. As years are forthcoming and technology changes, the Roadmap will be updated.

The Select Board held a hearing with the Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee to discuss the second version of the roadmap.

“We are here to seek your endorsement. We’re looking for your acknowledgment and support, we’re not looking for a holistic pre-approval of everything we have thought of and have yet to think of,” Mike Berlinski, chair of the Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee said in a March 28 meeting.

The second version of the roadmap incorporates more specific goals and targets and incorporates inputs from participating stakeholders and community members.

The Select Board will formally vote to adopt the new roadmap at a future meeting.

Achieving net zero emissions by 2050 does not mean ending all carbon emissions. Rather, measures are in put in place to offset current emissions.

“We haven’t left ourselves enough time,” Thomas says.  Thomas encourages residents to rely on and enhance the ability of natural systems to help with “environmental services.”

Those services include cleaning the air and water, mitigating and preventing erosion, and supporting the natural food webs that are relied on for food and other inputs for physical health, and mental health.

“We have a huge task ahead of us with the Roadmap… The conservation piece of [the Roadmap] will outlast the other pieces… It’s the most enduring part,” Thomas says.

Nashoba Tech student designs poster for fashion show

Pedro Mendez may not know a lot about the world of fashion. But he knows his way around graphic design.

Pedro, a sophomore in the Design & Visual Communications program at Nashoba Valley Technical High School, was a special guest at a recent fashion fundraiser by virtue of his design being selected to be used as the show’s promotional flier.

The annual fashion show is produced by Jodie Lasonde and Laurie Dillon. The two were looking for an appropriate design to be incorporated in the show’s promotional material.

The show was held March 18 at Westford Regency Inn and Conference Center, and Pedro and his mother received free tickets as a prize for his winning flier design.

Westford COVID-19 Update: Some COVID Regulations to Continue in Massachusetts

Massachusetts lawmakers approved a spending plan Thursday to continue a number of programs originally approved at the height of the pandemic.

The $389 supplemental budget also includes $130 million to extend the enhanced Supplemental Nutrition Program benefits as the federal government ended its support for the extra money provided to low-income people during the pandemic.

The funding will provide 40% of the previous federal allotment to about 640,000 Massachusetts households over the next three months.

The bill includes $65 million to continue free school meals for all students, $45 million for emergency shelter assistance and $68 million for early education grants.

The bill also includes provisions to authorize restaurants to offer cocktails, beer and wine to-go through April 1, 2024 as well as provisions to allow governments and public bodies to continue to hold meetings remotely and in hybrid formats through March 31, 2025.

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Ben Domaingue
Ben Domainguehttps://www.clippings.me/bendomaingue
Ben Domaingue has previously worked at newspapers in New Hampshire and is the Managing Editor covering Westford. He’s passionate about community journalism, photography and hiking. Email him at bdomaingue@westfordcat.org.

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