Unions, School Board agree to three-year contracts
Step increases, raises and tweaks to insurance included in new deals
Glendale — The Glendale-River Hills School Board and two unions have agreed to new three-year contracts.
The School Board and the unions were willing to agree to three-year contracts rather than what has been the standard two-year contract. Changes in state law allowed the longer pacts, according to District Administrator Larry Smalley.
"Most unions are a little nervous about what might happen in Madison next year," Smalley said.
Smalley outlined the highlights of both contracts.
Teachers in the 77-member union can expect a check reflecting a 1.5 percent adjustment in their 2009-2010 salaries in January. The pay adjustment created a $36,800 starting salary for beginning teachers and a top salary of $74,700.
For the current school year, 2010-2011, teachers will not receive a salary increase but all teachers got a step increase, with the teachers at the top of the pay scale receiving a 2.25 percent salary increase. Starting salary this school year is $36,700 while the top salary is $76,000.
During the upcoming school year, all teachers will receive a 3.5 percent increase. Beginning teachers salary will be $38,000 and the top salary will be $79,000.
The district will add another school day to the calendar under the contract beginning next year. The day will be an extra day for professional development.
Currently the district pays health insurance costs for five years for retirees but beginning with the 2010-2011 contract, retirees will have to cover any increases to premium costs that occur during the five-year period.
Glen Hills Middle School teacher Tim McCarthy served as lead negotiator during the most recent round of contract talks between the district and the North Shore.
"The entire process took a year-and-a-half, but it was very good," McCarthy said. "We kept talking and worked together, and that proved the process worked. There was a good exchange of ideas on both sides."
Bob Roska, board president, in an e-mailed statement said: "It was gratifying that the Association was willing to work with the district in these times of difficult financial challenges."
HSA accounts in lieu of cash
The 27 members of AFSCME Milwaukee District Council 48 and North Shore Suburban Employees contract for 2009-2010 provides no pay raise but step increases, including one for those at the top of the pay scale. Each step is a 2.5 percent boost in pay.
In 2010-2011 the union, which include computer, kindergarten and special education aides and assistant secretaries, agreed to a 3 percent salary increase but no step increases.
In 2011-2012, everyone will get a step increase of 2.5 percent. Paraprofessional pay will range from $11.23 to $18.95 per hour during the last year of the contract.
The union accepted a change in its retirement health benefits, according to Smalley.
"They used to be entitled to 60 to 100 days of pay as a cash payment when they retired," he said. The employees agreed to have the money put into a health retirement account which they can draw on to pay health care costs after retirement.
Smalley said the plan benefits both the district and employees because both avoid paying taxes on the cash payout.
State plan more expensive
The district did investigate the state health insurance plan, Smalley said, but will keep its coverage with the WEA.
"I laughed at comments Alberta Darling and Jim Doyle made about the state health plan," Smalley said. "We did the math and it was cheaper for us to stay with WEA than to go to the state plan."
The state plan forces all employees to join the plan, he said.
"We have 28 employees who don't take the WEA insurance because they have insurance through another source," Smalley said. The district pays those employees $6,000 in lieu of paying for their insurance. That helps keep the premium costs down for the district with WEA but makes the state insurance more expensive.
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