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October 18, 2013

Union teachers, board approve four-year pact

NEW CASTLE — The Union Area School Board and the district’s teachers have approved a four-year contract.

By a 9-0 vote Wednesday, the board approved the pact that will run through June 30, 2017.

The previous contract expired June 30, so the new pact — covering the district’s 60 teachers — is retroactive to July 1.

“The teachers worked about a month without a contract,” superintendent Alfonso “Butch” Angelucci noted.

“I’m proud of the teachers and the board and their willingness to work together to get this done,” he continued. “This took longer to accomplish than we thought, but there was constant negotiations and everyone kept in mind the students and taxpayers and tried to be as fair to both as possible.”

Rose Ann Fulena, former Union Area Education Association president, said a majority of the teachers approved the proposed contract in late September.

She said the teachers association accepted that reductions were necessary after Gov. Tom Corbett cut more than $1 billion from education statewide.

“Our members recognized the need to make personal sacrifices to ensure our students will continue to receive the kind of outstanding education necessary to fully prepare them for future endeavors,” said Fulena, the chief negotiator for the association.

Angelucci said the new contract saves money for the district through a process agreed to by the teachers.

Teachers moving up the pay steps of the contract will not receive the full financial increase due in the first three years, but will receive a sizable raise in the fourth year, he said.

Samantha Laverty, district business manager, explained teachers who have not yet reached the top of their pay scales will receive small raises over the first three years of the contract. Teachers at the top of the scale will receive no increase in the first three years.

In the fourth year of the contract, all teachers will receive a $2,000 increase.

During the life of the contract, she said, the district’s payroll will increase by 1.1 percent in the first year, 1.05 percent in the second year, 2.5 percent in the third year and 3.8 percent increase in the final year.

Other changes involve insurance. Teachers will be required to pay a $1,250 deductible if single or $2,500 for a family. The district will offset this cost by contributing $500 to single teachers and $1,000 to those with family coverage.

Previously, teachers paid a deductible of $100 if single or $200 for family.

Teachers also will also be required to pay an additional $300 per year “premium co-share” if their spouse is carried on their insurance.

Over the four years of the contract, Laverty noted, this health care change will save the district about $250,000.

She said this will help meet other expenses that will “have a significant impact” on the district, specifically requirements of the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System.

The board also agreed to pay a $5,000 bonus to any teacher in the district who earns a doctorate or achieves national board certification while on staff.

Any teacher who holds a master’s degree plus 30 credits also will receive a pay increase.

“We want to reward our teachers for their education,” Laverty said.

The contract also will:

•Reduce the teachers’ work days from 189 to 186, doing away with three in-service days.

•Create a pay-to-substitute plan that requires teachers to pay a substitute if he or she takes unscheduled time off during the school year.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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