By Denise Dick
The city school district will pay about $800,000 more annually in employee wages and salaries after the school board approved a new teachers’ contract and the “me too” provisions for two other unions, administrators and other non-union workers.
The teachers’ contract, approved by the Youngstown Education Association on Monday, calls for 2 percent pay increases in each of the three years, triggering 2 percent pay increases for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which includes secretaries, food-service workers and custodians; the crafts unions that include a handful of plumbers, electricians and carpenters; administrators and other non-union employees.
The teachers contract runs retroactively from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2016.
The teachers, though, also will pay 10 percent annually beginning in March toward their health insurance premium, up to about $2,000 annually.
Under the old contract, teachers paid a percentage of salary toward their health-care premiums: 1.57 percent for family plans and 0.785 percent for the single plan.
The board at a meeting Tuesday unanimously approved the teachers’ contract as well as the raises for the other groups.
Larry Ellis, president of the 525-member YEA, couldn’t be reached to comment.
Richard Atkinson, board president, said in a news release that the school board appreciates the teachers and administration working to reach agreement.
“The board is also pleased that the district’s teachers recognize the need to reduce health care costs and look at other efficient and effective ways to manage its associated rising costs,” Atkinson said. “As always, our focus is on increasing student success.”
Superintendent Connie Hathorn said the teachers didn’t see raises from 2006 to 2010 and then in the last contract, got 1 percent pay raises each year.
“That’s 3 percent in seven years,” he said.
The district will see savings through the change in health-insurance pay from the teachers, he said.
With the savings generated by the health-insurance change, the net cost to the district over the three years for the teachers’ contract is $1.6 million, according to Treasurer James Reinhard, who says the district can afford the pact.
Administrators, non-union employees and members of the other unions already have been paying 10 percent of the health-insurance premium without a cap.
Beginning teachers earned $29,885 under the old pact, while senior teachers, or those with 24 years of service and a doctorate, earned about $66,000 annually. The average teacher salary was $53,355.
The new pact also allows for new teachers to be hired at a higher pay rate. Under the new contract, new teachers will start at $30,878, the rate of a teacher with one year of experience.
“We want to recruit and retain good teachers, and we have to be competitive,” Hathorn said.
The contract also pays teachers $900 in March 2014 and $500 in March 2015 as stipends.
Even with the pay increase, some teachers likely will see less pay in their checks because of changes in the State Teachers Retirement System, he said.
Lock P. Beachum Sr., board member, told Hathorn he believes he has the tools he needs to take the district to an effective rating from the state.
“We’re expecting this district to move through continuous improvement to effective in the next two years,” said Beachum, a 16-year board member.
Tuesday was his last meeting.
The community is going to demand accountability from the school board, the superintendent and principals, Beachum said.
“If in two years this board is not on the right track, you may have to be looking for a new position somewhere else,” he said.
An irritated Hathorn fired back: “If I get support and I’m not undermined by the board, I will make it,” he said.