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Valley News Dispatch

Apollo-Ridge School District approves 5-year teachers contract

Emily Balser
| Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, 10:03 p.m.

The Apollo-Ridge School District and its teachers have agreed to a new contract — and ahead of schedule.

The five-year agreement, which begins Aug. 2, 2018, gives teachers annual raises that amount to 2.8 percent. It also switches the teachers to a high-deductible health insurance plan.

The school board approved the contract 6-0 at a special meeting Wednesday.

Board members Greg Primm, Dan Obriot and Rebecca Ross were absent.

The teachers union, the Apollo-Ridge Education Association, represents nearly 100 members that include teachers, guidance counselors, librarians and nurses.

District Superintendent Matt Curci said the starting teacher salary for this school year was about $36,000, but varies year to year. The maximum salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree is in the upper $70,000 range.

Curci said contract negotiations began in October, several months before they were required to start. He said the contract had to be approved by Nov. 10 for the new health care benefits to start Jan. 1. The union and the district agreed to start the health benefits early.

Curci said the negotiations went smoothly and both sides were flexible and understanding. He said this is the first time the district has had what they are calling an “early bird” contract.

“That sure doesn't happen too often,” he said.

Union president Jeff Jones said he and the teachers were happy with the negotiations.

“My hat is tipped to my association members along with the board,” he said. “It was a very good process.”

Jones said the changes to the health care weren't unexpected.

“We realize (the) economic times that we live in,” he said. “The teachers were very receptive; they were very educated on the matter.”

Although the deductibles will be going up to either $1,500 or $3,000 depending on the plan, Curci said the district will contribute to a health savings account for each teacher. Those changes will still provide a savings to the district on the overall premium. An exact number wasn't immediately available Wednesday, but it will be a savings of about 20 percent.

For the 2018 calendar year, the district will contribute $1,500 for employees enrolled for individual coverage and $3,000 for teachers enrolled in dependent coverage.

“We look at that as a great thing,” Curci said.

Board Vice President Forrest Schultz said although the deductibles will be going up for teachers, they tried to adjust for those changes with the raises.

“We did the best we could to offset that with fair compensation,” he said.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4680, emilybalser or via Twitter @emilybalser.

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