The Board of Education unanimously approved a three-year contract between the Newtown Association of School Administrators and the Newtown Board of Education during its meeting on Tuesday, October 1, resulting from negotiations that began on July 3l.
This pact covers 17 board employees, three of which are funded by the US Department of Education School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) Grant. It provides for a salary increase of 1.5 percent in the 2014-15 school year, a 2 percent increase for 2015-16, and a 1.75 percent increase the 2016-17 school year. Information the district has received concerning other administrative settlements to date average 2.27 percent, 2.34 percent, and 2.35 percent for the same period, according to a press release. The local additional costs for this settlement of 1.5 percent, 2 percent, and 1.75 percent will be $37,737, $51,070, and $45,580 respectively.
The negotiations focused primarily on wages and benefits with no language changes. Significant payment increases were made to the health benefits plan, i.e., changes for doctors and specialists and visits to the emergency room, with their increased co-payments ranging from $30 to $125, an increase of 20 percent to 33 percent per visit.
The contract settlement provides for increasing premium cost share on the part of the employee from 20 percent currently to 21 percent for calendar year 2016 and 23 percent for calendar year 2017. An optional HSA plan was also included in the agreement, consistent with the offering provided to all other district employees, at a premium share of 18 percent in year one, followed by 19 percent and 20 percent for the two subsequent years. A one-time incentive of $250 was included in the first year to encourage HSA enrollment.
Two other benefit changes included increasing the monthly maximum on the long-term disability income to $6,500 from $4,500 and increasing the maximum on the accident insurance from one time salary to $200,000 from $100,000. Both of these benefits have not changed in more than 15 years. The total yearly cost increase for the change was estimated at $3,726 and the total cost increase for life maximum would be $139 per year. The change for the medical offerings, which will result in board savings, is expected to exceed the costs of these two contract modifications.
“The board recognizes the important leadership that the administrators provide on a daily basis which is so vital particularly in light of all of the current upcoming changes the district faces,” Interim Superintendent of Schools John Reed said. “This agreement, which is viewed as favorable in light of what could have come from arbitration, is a testament to a positive working relationship the parties are engaged in.”
Debbie Leidlein, Board of Education chair, said, “I feel the outcome addressed the needs of both sides and I am happy that we could come to an agreement working collaboratively.”