Upper St. Clair School teachers voted 170 to 61 Friday evening to accept a new teacher contract with .
After the ratification, school board members met at 8 p.m. Friday and voted 8 to 1 to approve the agreement.
The new contract will save the district more than $3.7 million in its first two years.
The four-year contract replaces the prior contract that was not due to expire for another two years.
The most significant changes in the agreement are in salary compensation and a no furlough guarantee.
In the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years, teachers will use their 2009-10 salary schedule. In the 2014-15 school year, the 2010-11 salary schedule will be used. And in 2015-16, the 2011-12 schedule will be implemented.
In exchange, the district will furlough no union employee through 2013-14.
School Director Louis Mafrice was the only school board member to vote against the agreement because of the no furlough guarantee. He said he couldn't support the agreement unless the furlough waiver was reduced to one year.
Other contract changes include:
- Any professional employee that is eligible to retire and retires in the next four years will receive a $15,000 bonus.
- Retirees will be eligible for medical insurance for a third of the time they spent with the district. For example, an employee of 30 years would receive 10 years of medical insurance, or until they were eligible for Medicare.
- The number of in-service days will be reduced from 14 to 11 days per school year.
- The number of professional meetings will be reduced from three a month to two a month.
- Contributions to health insurance will increase. Professional employees must also pay 16 percent of the total premium for dental and vision insurance.
- Professional employees will be allowed to take personal days with 10 days of advanced notice. Before, teachers were allowed three personal days a year.
- A teacher and administrator committee will be formed concerning changes to the teacher evaluation system.
"This new agreement was possible due to the strong partnership that exists between teachers and the Upper St. Clair School District. It is important to note that the teachers' union and the teachers had no obligation to renegotiate their prior contract," said Rebecca Stern, school board president.
"The teachers have stepped up with a major personal financial input to the mutual partnership with the Upper St. Clair community. Our voluntary retrofit of the bargaining agreement will, by itself, not resolve the crisis. But when combined with investments from other stakeholders, the teachers can continue their good work at their proven high level of success," said John Irwin, president of the Upper St. Clair Education Association.
"The budget crisis we are facing can only be addressed through a concerted effort by the staff, administration, and community, each willing to make difficult decisions that serve the best interests of the students. The sacrifices made by the USCEA reflect our dedication to providing the best possible education for our students and will ensure that the high expectations of the Upper St. Clair School District will continue to be met," said Patrick Manion, president-elect of the USCEA.
"As an educator for almost 30 years, I understand and am grateful for the sacrifice our teachers have made. The positive and constructive relationship we have with our teachers is a major reason the school district has been so successful and why Upper St. Clair is a great place to live," said Patrick O'Toole, superintendent of the Upper St. Clair School District.
If the union would have rejected the proposal, O'Toole said the district would have had to move forward with , which included the elimination of programs and the .
"If we would have had to furlough 30 to 40 teachers, I don't think we could have easily survived," said Angela Petersen, school board member.
The administration is expected to present what the new agreement will mean for the 2012-13 budget at the next school board meeting on April 30.
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