23 Aug 2014
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Pay Cuts, Health Care Costs Increase Part of Teachers' Contract

Deal approved by teachers, school board Wednesday

Pay Cuts, Health Care Costs Increase Part of Teachers' Contract

Updated 8:09 p.m. Wednesday

An 18-month contract between Westlake City Schools and the union representing teachers and some other school employees was approved by the Board of Education and the Westlake Teachers Association Wednesday.

The contract will cut teachers' pay and increase their health care costs. Superintendant Dan Keenan said the contract will save the district between $5 million and $6 million.

The deal passed by a wide margin with the union, Westlake Teachers Association president Amy Butcher said. A tentative agreement was reached on Tuesday afternoon.

"It was difficult,"  Butcher said of negotiations. "It's a concessionary contract. It was a matter of how much we give, and where it comes from. The goal was to make it as fair as possible and make sure everyone is affected equally."

The Westlake Teachers Association represents about 300 teachers, librarians, psychologists, counselors, nurses and speech and language pathologists.

Key parts of the deal include:

  • No salary increase this school year, with a 2.5 percent cut next year to the 2011 pay scale.
  • A 50 percent increase in what members pay for health insurance and prescription drug coverage.
  • Prescription drug coverage co-pays increase by 33 percent.
  • Three extra work days for training next school year.
  • The minimum experience credit for new hires will drop to five years from 10.

Since there is no current levy, 18 months is the longest treasurer Mark Pepera could certify a contract.

Health care was a big concern for members, Butcher said.

"The message I got is that they were willing to pay more, but they wanted to maintain the current benefits," she said.

Butcher, a special education teacher at Holly Lane Elementary School, said it was good to have this done.

"I'm relieved," she said. "Now I can focus on being in my class and teaching."

Negotiations are continuing for classified employees.

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