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Valley News Dispatch

South Butler teachers set to vote on new contract proposal

Chuck Biedka
| Tuesday, June 12, 2018, 4:12 p.m.
Striking South Butler School District teachers walk past Knoch High School on Thursday, March 15, 2018.
Madasyn Czebiniak | Tribune-Review
Striking South Butler School District teachers walk past Knoch High School on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

South Butler School District teachers are scheduled to vote today on an nonbinding arbitration panel's contract proposal.

The approximately 170 teachers have been working without a new contract for about four years.

Teachers hit the picket line in mid-March and returned to the classroom in early April.

The recently released contract proposal was made by a three-member panel that included one neutral member and one each representing teachers and the school district.

Last week, the school board approved the proposal, said Brooke Witt, labor consultant for the teachers union.Now, it's the teachers' turn to accept or reject the panel's award, she said.

If teachers vote to approve the proposal, it would become the district's new contract with them. If they turn down the proposal, they and the district would start negotiations over again.

The proposal is in an eight-year contract that would start retroactively on July 1, 2014, and continue through June 30, 2022.

Thomas Breth, solicitor for South Butler, said this would be the district's first eight-year contract with teachers.

Witt said teachers were briefed about the proposal Tuesday so they would be prepared to vote on it today.

What is included?

The proposal would increase teacher salaries but also the amount they pay for health care.

• A 3 percent salary increase is included for the 2018-19 school year.

• 3.5 percent salary increases would follow for each year through the 2021-22 school year.

• A total lump sum payment of about $1.74 million would be paid to teachers for the 2015 through 2017 school years.

• Health insurance deductibles would double. For example, the in-nework deductible for families would increase from $500 to $1,000 per year.

• For the first time, a $15 co-pay would apply to occupational and physical therapy.

• The cost to teachers for the PPO health insurance plan would increase from $40 per month to $80 per month in the contract's final year.

Breth said the $1.74 million lump sum payment is included in the district's $36 million overall budget this year, so it won't force a tax hike.

The salary increases for future years are “affordable and fiscally responsible,” Breth said.

He said the board doesn't want to increase real estate taxes, but that decision will depend on yearly revenue and expenses.

Real estate taxes generate about $15.6 million in revenue, about 43.5 percent of all revenue collected to operate the district.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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