Teachers, staff ratify new 3-year agreement

Teachers, staff ratify new 3-year agreement

School board will vote on contract, 2.5% raise next week

DANVILLE — The Danville Education Association ratified a three-year agreement with the Danville school district Thursday afternoon, according to association president Robin Twidwell.

Ninety-four percent of the union members voting approved the contract, Twidwell said. She would not say how many members voted.

The proposed contract, which will be voted on by the school board in a special meeting next week, provides an average salary increase of 2.5 percent over the three-year period for the more than 600 teachers, teaching assistants, secretaries and learning resource clerks represented by the association. It also includes a longer teaching day, 15 additional minutes, for all teaching assistants and teachers, and in January 2015, the education association will take over administration of its health insurance plan.

"We're thrilled," Twidwell said Thursday night after a two-hour meeting at Danville High School's auditorium where the association's bargaining team went over details of the proposed contract with the association members, who then voted on the agreement. Twidwell said there were a lot of questions, but the team believes that all the members left well-informed of the changes.

Twidwell said the team is very happy with the average salary increase of 2.5 percent, especially considering the fact that when negotiations began more than a year ago, the district was offering no increase, basically no new money for three years. Twidwell said some are getting more than 2.5 percent and some less.

Members of the association have been working under the terms of its previous two-year contract, which ended June 30, 2012. This new agreement, if approved by the school board next week, will be in effect through June 30, 2015.

In regard to the health insurance changes in 2015, Twidwell said other districts in the state have moved to such a model, and both sides agreed to try it here. Twidwell said a committee of six association and three district administrators will be in control of the health insurance plan, determining the broker and benefits, for example. The school district will be able to cap its insurance costs. That cap will be determined by taking the average of the district's costs of health insurance for the four years between 2011 and 2014. And a reserve fund will be established and built up by a minimum contribution by the school district and from employee premiums. Twidwell said the hope is that by taking control of determining a plan, health insurance benefits can be increased.

The contract also retains a retirement incentive in which employees with 15 years of service to the school district can receive a 6 percent annual salary increase for up to three years before retiring.

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