Board of education approves SWEA contract

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By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

The South-Western City School District Board of Education unanimously approved a new three-year contract for teachers and other certificated staff at a special meeting on May 21.

According to the terms of the contract, the 1,600 members of the South-Western Education Association (SWEA) will receive a 2.5 percent annual increase in their base salary for each year of the contract, while the board will increase its contributions for family insurance coverage from 68 percent to 69 percent this year and from 69 percent to 70 percent in late 2020.

Treasurer Hugh Garside said the salary increase will cost the district roughly $3.3 million each year of the contract and the increase of family insurance coverage will cost roughly $130,000 per year.

He added that the district is in sound financial shape and would be able to afford the increases.

The terms of the contract, which begin July 1 and end on June 30, 2022, also make adjustments to the usage of leave, internal coverage and assignments and addresses upcoming state-required changes to the evaluation system. It also calls for an increase in the flexibility buildings have in scheduling of certificated staff work time outside the regular school day.

According to the board, the agreement will create a joint commitment to review and make recommendations regarding the implementation of the Social and Emotional Learning Standards. It will be comprised of 10 members – five appointed by the district superintendent and five appointed by the president of SWEA.

Carol Cross, the current president of SWEA, said the formation of the joint committee was an important factor in the contract negotiations as it will provide a road-map on how to efficiently guide students who are struggling with social or emotional needs.

“This is a very important topic so we cannot be ‘winging it’ when it comes to these standards and how to implement them,” said Cross, who is entering her fifth year as president of the association.

Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise expressed a similar sentiment after the May 21 meeting.

“More and more children have social and or emotional needs that are or are becoming barriers to their individual learning.”

He said the committee will help put into place the state standards in order to provide support for the district personnel and also align with the needs of the students on a one-on-one basis.

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