JOHNSTOWN -Both sides are pleased with Wednesday's ratification of a final new three-year contract for members of the Johnstown Teachers Association.
The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education on Tuesday approved the proposed contract. On Wednesday, JTA members approved the contract, which now makes to final. The agreement is retroactive to July 1 and runs through June 30, 2015.
According to a joint news release issued Wednesday by the district and JTA, the new agreement includes an overall increase in teacher salaries of more than 4 percent per year over the three years, inclusive of step increments. When the proposed agreement summary was released Tuesday, it indicated city teachers would receive a 1.5 percent annual raise from 2012-13, and annual raises of 2 percent would be given for 2013-14 and 2014-15.
District Superintendent Robert DeLilli clarified today the 1.5 to 2 percent raises are the basic salary increases for all 150 teachers. But he said the faculty members also receive step raises, which include longevity, for steps 1-26. Taking that into account, DeLilli said, the "average" raise for the teachers over 26 steps actually comes out to more than 4 percent annually.
In the prepared release. DeLilli said of the new contract: "We're pleased it is done. We met several times over the past six months."
The agreement states the JTA will allow the district to offer its members new health insurance plans as they may become available. CDPHP and MVP plans will still be offered. The district will not arbitrarily move members to a new insurance plan without negotiations. The district will offer members an insurance buyout, if it would provide savings to the district each year.
Teachers will be offered a retirement incentive of $20,000 to eligible members. The incentive will be offered to all eligible for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years, and offered to those first eligible to retire in 2014-15.
The news release said the concessions in health insurance more than cover the cost of raises for the life of the contract.
"Getting the agreement completed as opposed to the potential costs due to prolonged negotiations clearly benefits the taxpayers," DeLilli stated. "The new agreement will lead to savings for the district as compared to the previous agreement over the next three years and preserve programs for students. The move to a less expensive health insurance plan was a major factor in the negotiation process."
The release indicates the projected teacher cost three years from now with the new agreement is actually less than the current year's cost.
JTA Co-Presidents Louise Carville and James Morton couldn't be reached this morning for comment.
But in the release, JTA Negotiation Chairman Hanz Litz stated: "The agreement reflects the creativity and flexibility required to meet the challenges of providing a quality education in a time of fiscal hardship. The fair and financially responsible contract helped continue growth in a period of massive change in the educational landscape. The changes in health care, the retirement incentive, and the health insurance buyback incentive will all save the district money over the life of the contract."