By Rick Palsgrove
The Groveport Madison teachers agreed to a three year contract with the district that includes an additional year extension.
The Groveport Madison Local Education Association unanimously approved the contract on July 7 and the Groveport Madison Board of Education unanimously approved it on July 8.
“It’s the first time in 38 years in the district that a teachers’ contract was settled prior to the expiration date of the existing contract,” said GMLEA President Joy Bock.
“This agreement is fiscally responsible to the taxpayers and supports the overall vision of the district,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Bruce Hoover.
“This agreement is historic in its length and breadth,” said Board President Nathan Slonaker.
According to district officials, the new three year agreement, which is effective July 1, 2015, provides teachers with a 2.5 percent base salary increase in years one and two, and a 2 percent base salary increase in year three. In addition, the board and union agreed to extend the contract for an additional one year term that will guarantee teachers another 2.5 percent base increase in the fourth year.
Union representatives also agreed to modify insurance benefits payments, replacing the dollar cap with a percentage amount.
“This change will help the district save on health care costs and allow for any savings to be utilized for educational purposes,” said Mary Guiher, Groveport Madison public relations officer.
Guiher said previously the teachers paid 10 percent of the insurance premium, but it was capped, therefore when insurance rates rose, they paid a capped amount and no more.
“That cap has now been lifted,” said Guiher. “The percentage they pay of the premium will remain at 10 percent, but as insurance rates rise, they will end up paying more since the cap has been lifted.”
Guiher said current rates for a single plan is $63 per month and that will rise to $70.61 per month. Under the old agreement, that rate would have remained at $63. The family rate is currently $155 per month but will rise to $173.59 per month.
“The board still pays 100 percent of dental and life insurance for the teachers,” said Guiher.
GMLEA representatives said terms of insurance were maintained due to teachers not receiving a base salary increase for six of the past seven years. Since 2008, teachers received no base increase in salary except a 1.25 percent in March 2011. In two of those years, they did not receive step increases which are guaranteed increases built in to the salary schedule. According to the GMLEA, teachers agreed to these sacrifices in their pay in order to help the district regain solid financial ground.
Both the union and administration agreed to new language regarding the district’s hiring practices. According to a statement from the district, the agreement will allow administrators to begin the hiring process for new teachers as early as January in order to find and hire quality candidates before other districts begin this process.
“It used to be that we had to wait until the first week of March to begin recruiting teachers,” said Bock. “Hopefully we’ll get first crack at the cream of the crop of new teachers by moving the process up sooner.
Both the teachers and administration said the contract negotiations went smoothly.
“We are extremely pleased with the cooperation from negotiation team members for both parties,” said Hoover. “Their willingness to listen fostered an atmosphere of working together as a team. All are to be congratulated for a job well done addressing the needs of staff, students and the community.”
Hoover said this is the first time the district has negotiated a multi-year contract “so efficiently.”
“The extension of the agreement for a fourth year signifies how committed both sides are to working together to provide the continuity and support necessary to meet students’ needs,” said Hoover.
Added Bock, ““Although the teachers didn’t get the steps back that we had given up we were pleased that the administration and board recognized our hard work and dedication by giving us pay increases.”