No surprises here: School Board approves contract with union

May 24, 2014 

As expected, the Monroe County School Board on Wednesday unanimously approved a contract with the United Teachers of Monroe, opening the door to the release of $1.25 million in state-funded raises.

Union members overwhelmingly ratified the deal Monday, bringing to a close, with the board's vote, to more than a year of contentious negotiations that included meditation and court filings.

State money approved by the Legislature for staff raises will be released to the School District likely by June 10, said Jim Drake, the district's executive director of finance and performance.

He said 85 percent of the raises would be in employees' June 15 paychecks, and the rest in the three paychecks following. That's because even though the contract covers the period from July 1, 2013, to this coming June 30, it's basically a 5.5-week deal; the raises are retroactive.

The raises are $1,500 for teachers (between 2.24 percent and 4 percent) plus an additional paid day of work that, depending on base salary, ranges from $225 to $400; a 2 percent raise for school-related personnel totaling $55,000; and a 2 percent raise for principals and assistant principals totaling $43,000.

Non-union staff such as secretaries, clerical workers and administrators will also get 2 percent raises.

The contract includes language allowing the School Board to impose unpaid furlough days if dictated by finances -- the main sticking point in the negotiations; the union vehemently opposed that.

In 2011 and 2012, the board imposed seven unpaid furlough days each year to save $1.7 million each year and avoid layoffs.

Talks on a new deal will start likely about two weeks after the school year ends, Superintendent Mark Porter said. Both he and union President Holly Hummell-Gorman said they expect the next round of talks to go more smoothly than the ones just concluded.

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