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5-year contract for North Hills teachers called win for everyone

| Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, 12:22 a.m.

The North Hills Education Association and the North Hills School Board approved a five-year contract Wednesday that will take effect on Aug. 23.

The school board voted unanimously to approve the agreement, which had the support of an “overwhelming majority” of union members, said John Thomas, president of the teachers union association.

The contract includes an annual pay raise of 1 to 2 percent for teachers at the top of the pay scale, which accounts for about one-third of current teachers.

It mandates that next year each teacher will contribute $165 a month toward the cost of their insurance benefits, $10 more than they have been contributing.

“Both sides approached this thing seriously,” Thomas said. “It's not about concessions. It's about commitment.”

Under the current contract, teachers' salaries in the 2013-2014 school year range from $43,665 to $95,514.

The North Hills Education Association and district administrators have been negotiating the contract since June. The agreement was approved eight months before the contract expires.

“From our perspective, this is very big and crucial for the district to get this agreement,” board President Ed Wielgus said. “This really does give us an edge for planning the next five years.”

Superintendent Patrick Mannarino said the district was able to reach an early agreement because of cooperation on both sides and because the expiring contract was strong and fair to both sides.

“We did everything we could because we are working in the best interest of the kids,” Mannarino said.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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