Aurora -- The Board of Education approved a three-year contract with the Aurora Education Association -- which provides for small raises -- and also gave the same raises to several non-union employees at its Aug. 26 meeting.
In the 2013-14 school year, teachers and non-union employees will receive a 0.75 percent pay increase, then will receive a 1 percent boost in each of the next two years. The teachers union, which includes 201 members, ratified the contract Aug. 12. District employees have been under a wage freeze for the past two years.
As for benefits, deductibles will stay the same, union members will pay more for prescription medications and they will receive vision coverage for the first time.
Superintendent Russ Bennett said the co-pays for generic drugs now will be $10, while formulary drugs will be $15 and non-formulary $30. That compares to $3, $10 and $20, respectively, in the last two-year contract.
The Board and teachers also agreed to a new process for teacher evaluations, which is aligned with a state-mandated system that focuses on teacher performance and student achievement.
According to Bennett, another clause in the contract specifies that any reduction in staff will no longer be based solely on seniority.
"The agreement came after several meetings during the summer, and those meetings were amicable and productive for all concerned," said Bennett. "This agreement keeps the district on a solid financial ground."
He said the negotiations went smoothly, and he believes the new contract is fair and "will provide the stability we [the district] need."
AEA President Ken Brown called the negotiations and the contract "non-eventful."
He said the teachers recognize the difficulty the school district faces to stay financially sound and the need for some give-and-take between the union and the Board.
"We've taken a wage freeze to help the district pass a levy for new money. We have to take a realistic view when it comes to the district's finances," he said.
"We know we are paid well, and we believe we earn that pay based on the high level of student achievement the district has accomplished," he added. He also noted the contract's benefit changes are aligned with what is standard in the consortium the AEA belongs to.
He summarized the small teacher raises will be nullified by increases in STRS contributions over the next four years, thus teachers will see less money in their pockets.
The 79 non-union positions which will receive the slight pay hikes include secretaries, cafeteria workers, computer and technical services staffers, bus mechanics, the EMIS and benefits coordinator and payroll and accounts managers.
Bennett said the Ohio Association of Public School Employees contract, which covers 61 employees, expires at the end of December, and negotiations with that union have not started.
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