Manheim Central OKs contract BY K. SCOTT KREIDER, Correspondent
The impasse in contract talks in Manheim Central School District ended after nearly three years Monday when board members voted unanimously to ratify the new teachers' agreement.
The agreement for 2010-15 with Manheim Central Education Association was applauded by board president Bryan Howett.
He said, "I appreciate the professionalism of the association members. I just want to thank them because I think their commitment is the same as ours. Their commitment is to serve the students and to do what's best for the students. Negotiations are one thing, but we're all here for the same reason, and that's for the students."
Business manager Nathan Wertsch said, "Both sides have really been working well together throughout this process."
He said said it may cost the district an extra $250,000 a year.
Manheim Central teachers have been working without a contract since the end of 2009-10.
Progress was made in the stalled negotiations last fall when the state Labor Relations Board appointed a fact-finder to work out a compromise. The legally binding fact-finder's report was approved in October, marking a major step in reaching a final agreement.
According to MCEA president Louise Anderson, the vote on Monday was to approve that the language in the contract matched the fact-finder's report that was approved in October. Anderson said the contract would still need to be signed.
Although the contract has been ratified, there are still loose ends that need to be negotiated, Anderson said in an interview after the meeting.
Unfinished work includes agreement on the 2013-14 high school schedule.
Anderson said a committee of three board members and three MCEA representatives already have reached an agreement but have not yet put the agreement into contractual language.
"There is some urgency to move on it," Anderson said. "It's already the end of January, and, if you're talking about making changes to a high school schedule, you need time to pull that together."
"If there is no agreement reached, the contract stands as is," Howett said in an interview after the meeting.
Howett said after the meeting that the district would not eliminate block scheduling at the high school. "We may be modifying the block to try to find pockets of time to help students that are either falling behind or to give extra-challenging work to students that are excelling," Howett said.
The collective bargaining agreement for 2010-15 includes higher insurance premiums to be paid by all district employees, changes to scheduling and preparation time, phasing out bonuses for National Board Teachers Certifications and increases to teacher's salaries.
The new insurance policy took effect on Jan. 1 and, on Jan. 11, teachers received retroactive payment for salary increases in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.
In February, teachers will receive retroactive payment for a 2.6 percent salary increase for the 2012-13 school year, and teachers can expect a 2.5 percent salary increase each year for the remaining two years of the contract.
Wertsch said Thursday that the district will gain savings with the new insurance policy which requires teachers to pay higher contributions, in-network deductibles and higher co-pays.
The district also will gain savings by phasing out bonuses for the National Board Teachers Certification, Wertsch said. Previously, the district paid an extra $7,000 a year for 10 years to teachers who gained the certification. That bonus, Wertsch said, will be cut to $3,500 for the next two years and then be eliminated.
Despite the savings, "the new contract is going to cost the district more than what it will save," Wertsch said. He estimated it may cost the district an extra $250,000 a year.
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