The union and school board will continue negotiations Tuesday.
BY AMANDA GARRETT
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NEWTON FALLS -- The President of the Newton Falls teachers union said Friday that she and the other teachers feel they have no other choice but to walk out of the classroom next Thursday even though they're being offered more than 4 percent in pay raises over two years.
"We don't want to strike," said Darlene Schaefer, president of the Newton Falls Classroom Teachers Association. "We're just getting to know our students, and we've established a little routine."
Superintendent David J. Wilson said a strike "is almost certain" Thursday.
The two core areas of difference between the parties are salary and insurance, Wilson said.
The board proposed a two-year contract with a salary increase of 2.1 percent for each year, while the union proposed a one-year contract with a guaranteed cost of living increase plus 1 percent.
The union's pay proposal equates to 5.1 percent, according to the board's calculations, but the union equates the pay raise to 4.2 percent, she said.
The average salary for a Newton Falls teacher is $48,600 per year.
The teachers asked for the cost-of-living increase because their raises are being eaten up with health care costs, Schaefer said.
The teachers proposal maintains the current health-care contribution levels, which are $20 per month for a single plan and $40 per month for a family plan.
The board's proposal raises the contribution levels to $39 per months for a single plan and $100 a month for a family plan.
The board is proposing the increases in employee contributions because it expects to see an additional 10 percent increase in insurance premiums, which will cost the district $95,000 per year.
The union opposes the increase in insurance premiums because the 10 percent increase will not take effect until 2008, Schaefer said.
The two sides will meet again Tuesday, and if no agreement can be reached, union members plan to strike Thursday.