By Dedra Cordle
Several months ago, the South-Western City Schools Board of Education began contract negotiations with the South-Western Education Association (SWEA).
After hours of discussions, the two entities hammered out a deal in time for the new school year.
At the Aug. 22 meeting, the board of education officially approved the new three-year contract and called it favorable to both parties.
“This new agreement allows the district to remain competitive while continuing to stay within its budget,” said Treasurer Hugh Garside.
Under the terms of the contract, the SWEA members – which encompasses more than 1,500 nurses, psychologists, school counselors, teachers and tutors – will receive an increase of their base salary of 2.25 percent for each of the three years of the contract.
Teachers starting out who hold a bachelor’s degree will have a base salary of $39,648 this year, $40,540 the following year and $41,452 the following year.
The base salary increases for experience and advanced degrees. For instance, a teacher who holds a master’s degree with additional education and has been in the profession for 24 years or more will see a base salary of $93,930 come the final year of the contract.
The agreement reduces the board’s contribution for single person insurance coverage from 90 percent to 87.5 percent with SWEA members paying 12.5 percent of health insurance premiums, up from 10 percent. The agreement increases the board’s contribution for family insurance coverage from 65 percent to 68 percent with SWEA members paying 32 percent of health insurance premiums, down from 35 percent.
There were also be a change in early release days. The current school year has four early release dates scheduled. In the 2017-18 school year, those will be eliminated and in its place will be a single full-day focused on professional development and classroom planning.
The agreement also reinstates middle and high school department leaders and creates similar elementary and intermediate school positions to support the work of teacher collaboration, instructional support, and student data collection and analysis.