On Monday, the Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education ratified a two-year contract with the Van Buren Education Association with no increase in pay this school year, but an advancement of one salary step for the 2011-12 school year.
School Supt. Thomas Riutta said the agreement means the district will be able to save over $1 million in the first year. He said the savings in the second year are not known.
In making the motion to accept the contract, Board Vice President Bob Binert said, “We want to thank the VBEA for their efforts in helping the district.” The motion carried unanimously.
“The willingness of VBEA members to take concessions shows the commitment level teachers have in this district,” said VBEA President Susan Duda-Osborne in a memo to the board.
“The teachers acknowledge the financial short-fall and have helped the district save over one million dollars.
“Van Buren Education Association members are truly dedicated and look forward to delivering a high quality education to all students attending public school in our district,” she concluded.
The tentative agreement was reached on Aug. 16 and the VBEA ratified the negotiated contract in a general assembly meeting Sept. 7.
The agreement states that at the end of the 2010-11 school year, both sides shall review the per-pupil state foundation grant for the VBPS and if it is more than $7,634, then 50% of the excess shall be paid to the teaching staff in an off-schedule payment.
At the end of the 2011-12 school year, if the foundation grant is more than $7,634 then 50% of the excess shall be paid to the teaching staff (at the top of the salary schedule) in an off-schedule payment.
Health insurance will be amended to include a $10 office visit and a $100/$200 deductible for 2010/11.
In the 2011-12 school year if the school district is advised the insurance increase is over 4%, the parties shall re-open negotiations on health benefits.
The agreement states: “The parties agree the district is facing unprecedented economic difficulty which will require economic sacrifice from all groups.”
Also, “If the district commences a major new educational initiative involving general fund dollars, the VBEA may re-open the contract.”
The contract also states that provisions of 10.4 regarding vacation and/or holiday periods will not be enforced during the term of this contract provided no more than 15 teachers per day shall be eligible for the entire district, with a limitation of three per day for the high school and two per day for all other buildings.
In an August letter to VBEA members, union president Duda-Osborne noted, “The bargaining team has frequently discussed the federal stimulus money that will be potentially coming to Van Buren. The money is not here yet, and is considered “one-shot” money (this year only)…”
In a computer snafu on Aug. 30, terms of the tentative agreement were inadvertently emailed out to members of the media along with union members before the union vote. Osborne sent out a plea for the media not to release the terms until after the union members voted and the media went along with the embargo.