Tallmadge -- The Board of Education and Tallmadge Teachers Association have a new three-year contract in place that includes 1.5 percent annual wage increases and health insurance contributions.
The Board accepted the new contract Oct. 1, which is effective June 30, 2013, to June 30, 2016. If the school district's treasurer certifies that funds are available at the end of the contract, it automatically will renew for another year.
The TTA has about 160 members, which includes all of the teachers and guidance counselors in the district.
The contract includes 1.5 percent wage increases each year and an employee health care contribution increase from 10 percent to 12 percent. The school district will pay for the balance.
Board President Rick Kellar called the contract "fair" for the district and its union members.
"We're excited to have a long-term contract in place because it allows us to predict costs and have a more financially stable budget process ... It removes a lot of uncertainty," he said, adding it's important to taxpayers that public employees pay more toward their health care as workers in the private sector do.
TTA President Jeff Moyer agreed the contract is beneficial for both sides.
"It was very fair. We did have stumbling blocks, but we worked together and got through it. I think both sides are winners on this contract," he said.
According to Moyer, teachers didn't receive pay increases during the 2010-11 school year, only step increases, and they didn't get wage or step increases during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, so the annual wage increases in the new contract are pleasing. He said controlling members' health care contributions also was satisfactory.
Members' health care contributions increased from $46.67 to $56 for single coverage and from $125.01 to $150.01 for family coverage per month.
As of Jan. 1, members will be offered two choices of health plans with differing levels of coverage. The "gold" option will be the same plan offered now with the same rates, and the "blue" option will be the same plan with higher deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket maximums. The rates for the "blue" plan are yet to be determined.
No new taxes will be required to support the new contract, school and union officials said.
Issues related to the general topic of "working conditions" also were ironed out during negotiations. Members of the TTA came to the August Board meeting to express their disappointment with the Board's stance on the topic. Moyer explained last week that "working conditions" referred to the state's new mandate for teacher evaluations.
The district evaluated teachers before the state's requirement that teacher evaluations must include specific items, and the Board adopted a revised evaluation system that reflected the state mandates last summer.
Although the TTA didn't disagree with the requirements of the state, Moyer said teachers were concerned the Board would be able to implement policies related to the teacher evaluations that might affect the "working conditions," such as how easy or difficult it is to get tenure and how high-performing teachers are evaluated.
A committee made up of school district administrators and teachers was formed and proposed changes to the contract it felt were in the best interest of the school district and teachers.
The new contract also was updated to reflect other changes in state law, including an extension of the mentoring program from one to four years for teachers entering the profession. Teachers would have a provisional teaching license until they complete the mentoring program.
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Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.