Poland school board, 2 unions unanimously ratify 2-year pact


By Karl Henkel

khenkel@vindy.com

POLAND

Poland schools employees agreed to what some called “historic” concessions in an effort to help save money.

The school board and both unions — teaching and nonteaching — unanimously ratified a new two-year contract that freezes both scale and wage increases through Aug. 31, 2013.

The board also approved wage and step freezes for all nonunion employees.

Board member Larry Dinopoulos said it was the “hardest thing that he’s had to do” in his more than 25 years in the business world, and Superintendent Robert Zorn called it a “truly historic sacrifice.”

Zorn estimated the district will save anywhere from $300,000 to $400,000 per year due to the step- wage freeze, which normally increases pay based on level of education and years of experience.

Health-care contributions will not change in the new agreement; employees will still pay 5 percent of premiums. If Senate Bill 5, currently up for vote in the House, passes, teachers statewide would pay 15 percent of premiums, but only after current contracts expire, Zorn said.

Teachers union president Ronald Rowe said the union knew it was looking at a concessionary package, not only because of the economic climate and SB 5, but also because of the two pending school levies on the May ballot.

Retirement contributions also will stay the same per the State Teachers Retirement System. Employees pay 10 percent of salary, and employers pay 14 percent. Administrators, like many throughout the state, have their share of STRS paid for by the district.

Four principals, including Ed Kempers (McKinley), Kevin Snyder (Poland Seminary), Brian Banfield (PSHS) and Tracy Kaschak (North) received contract extensions, as did three other administrators, all at their current wages, Zorn said. Other administrators already under contract will remain under the conditions of their current deal, board member Beau Weaver said.

The board also approved cutting high school busing beginning next school year and also approved eliminating some full-time teaching positions, including a physical education, music and art instructor and a guidance counselor from elementary levels.

The high school also will phase out Latin as one of its foreign language options.

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