MASD takes contract offer public

After several months of negotiating a contract quietly behind closed doors, the Montrose Area School District took their latest offer to the public in a letter posted last week on the homepage of the district website.
In the June 21 update on negotiations, the letter states: “After approximately 2-1/2 years of contract negotiations, the teachers’ union negotiating team and their representative content that they are unable to live with the salary and benefits package which the school district has offered.”
Superintendent Carol Boyce said, “We believe that the remaining issues are financial – dealing with insurance and salary issues.”
She added that the Montrose Education Association’s concerns of wording “seem to have been put to rest at this time.”
“The board believes firmly that the last offer which they laid on the table is fair, is forward looking, and is keeps both taxpayers and district students in mind,” Boyce said.
According to the update, the district’s “last and final” proposal includes salary increases through the 2019-20 school year. Board proposed increases are as follows:
2017-18: 3.64 percent;
2018-19: 3.03 percent;
2019-20: 2.20 percent.
In addition to the increases in pay, the board has also offered $500 for each of 2015-16 and 2016-17 as a signing bonus, and not included in the regular salary schedule.
According to the update, the district has also offered a revised health plan in which they maintain teachers would pay less than they currently pay, depending on their usage.
In the district’s proposed plan, an employee would pay five percent of their premium, with the district’s share at 95 percent.
According to the information put out by the board, the current family premium of $18,000 would be reduced to $12,600 in the new offer, with the cost to the teacher at $630 for family coverage. A teacher’s share of the deductible would be $850 for an individual and $1,500 for a family through to the 2018-19 school term.
Boyce said this was a major revamp of the insurance. The one-time savings of about $600,000 from the premiums is where the revenue for the proposed raises comes from, she explained. She said the proposed shift also creates lower premiums for the membership.
“All the savings (from the insurance would be distributed to the staff in salaries,” she said, “plus the additional benefit of paying less for their share of the premiums.”
“We need to get this contract settled,” Boyce said. “But we cannot spend beyond the taxpayers’ ability to support.”
A negotiation session is scheduled for Wednesday, the superintendent said.
“We are hoping, yet again, at this negotiation session that we will get an agreement,” Boyce said. We would like everybody’s attention to be focused on our most important job which is to educate our youngsters.”

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