The Archbold Area School Board and the Archbold Education Association voted to ratify a three-year master contract which grants teachers and professional staff pay hikes.
Both sides voted to approve the contract at special meetings, Wednesday, April 6.
Aaron Rex, superintendent, said the pay raises start with 2% the first year– Aug. 1, 2016, through July 31, 2017.
A second 2% increase is built into the second year, Aug. 1, 2017, through July 31, 2018.
The final year of the contract– Aug. 1, 2018 through July 31, 2019– the base pay increases 1.75%.
There are no “reopener” clauses in the contract that allow the two sides to renegotiate any portions.
With board members Phil Nofziger absent and Jeremy Hurst abstaining, the remaining board members voted unanimously to accept the contract. Hurst’s wife, Jennifer, is a teacher at the elementary school.
Kent Vandock, director of choral activities at Archbold High School and AEA president, said the vote of the teachers and professional staff was 27-1.
Really Good Job
In commenting on the new contract, Rex said the teachers had seen very small pay increases over the previous two three-year contracts.
For 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13, teachers and professional staff received no increase the first year, followed by raises of 1.25% and 1.5%.
For the next three years, 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015- 16, the AEA and the board agreed to a pay freeze the first year, and 1% pay hikes the next two years.
However, Rex said teachers have been required to pick up a larger share of health insurance costs and fund a higher percentage of their retirement costs.
Some years, teachers could actually see reductions in their take-home pay.
“We tried to weigh that in. That, and our teachers do a really good job,” Rex said.
Teachers and professional staff receive increases in wages in two ways.
As teachers progress through the salary schedule they receive increases for an additional year of experience, additional education, or both.
These increases are known as “step” increases.
However, there are gaps in the steps.
For example, for the first seven years of a teacher’s service, there’s a step increase in pay built into each year, but there may be years when there is no step increase.
The other way teachers receive additional dollars is through an increase in base pay.
When base pay goes up, all of the steps on the salary schedule go up, as well. A metaphor for the phenomena is “a rising tide raises all boats.”
While the base salary has been frozen in the past, Rex said step increases have never been frozen.
A change in the new contract with teachers includes an additional step in the salary schedule.
Rex said due to changes in the rules in the State Teachers Retirement System, teachers are now working longer, to age 68, to qualify for full benefits.
That means a teacher could work 37 or 38 years.
Under the previous Archbold salary schedule, Rex said teachers received no step increases beyond 25 years, so a teacher could work 10 to 12 years without receiving a step increase.
For that reason, a step increase was added at year 33 on the schedule.
On another issue, teachers “will also see stability in the amount they are paying for their insurance premiums,” Rex said in a press release.
The two sides began contract negotiations on Feb. 22.
In all, Rex said there were five meetings between negotiators on both sides, totaling 18 hours.
Rex and Vandock confirmed negotiators had reached an agreement on Monday, March 21.
The two sides used IBB, or Interest-Based Bargaining, to reach the new accord.
Rex described IBB as a “problem-solving, consensus approach to negotiations that focuses on the interests of the parties and works to find a mutually-beneficial agreement.”