By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
SHARPSVILLE AREA —
School bells will ring on time next year in the Sharpsville Area School District. Teachers have agreed to a wage freeze for this school year as part of a new contract, school officials reported.
The board on Monday unanimously approved the four-year contract, retroactive to the start of this school year, that was reached between teachers and the district negotiators.
“It’s a very fair contract that everyone can live with,” board member Janice Raykie said. “It was a very amicable negotiation.”
Teachers will see a yearly raise in the remaining three years of the contract. For the 2014-15 school year, the increase is 2.99 percent, followed by 2.5 percent in each of the final two years.
The raises average out to 1.99 percent over the life of the contract, said Dave DeForest, vice president of the school board and a member of its negotiating team.
“They were in negotiations for over a year, and teachers knew going into this that there was going to be a wage freeze,” Raykie said.
Teachers also agreed to increasing medical co-pays and benefits.
An increase in co-pays for physician and physical therapy visits will increase from to $15 from $10, staying at that amount for the length of the contract.
Prescription co-pays will double to $20 from $10, and decrease to zero for generic drugs to encourage their use, Jaime Roberts, business manager, said.
Teachers did not pay health-insurance deductibles before. By the end of the contract, they will be paying an $800 annual deductible per family.
“It is a standard medical package, competitive with most of the districts in the county,” DeForest said.
In addition, teachers will work three extra in-service days starting in September 2014, Roberts said.
Raykie and DeForest credit the negotiating team for making the process smooth for all parties.
“It’s fortunate that we have a mediator that engages both parties,” DeForest said. “That is important to me because this is a people situation.”
DeForest said he was pleased because everyone involved made an overt effort to get along from the start.