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Health insurance discussed in teacher negotiations

January 12, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - The Washington County Teachers Association on Thursday presented two proposals to the Washington County Board of Education during the third round of bargaining for the 2007-08 school year.

The association also presented a counterproposal for tuition reimbursement during the meeting that was open to the public. The board presented its salary offer.

During negotiations, both sides will negotiate salary. The board presented proposals on tuition reimbursement and the voluntary transfer process at a meeting in December. The teachers association submitted health insurance and extracurricular pay Thursday as its items for discussion.

The teachers association gave its salary proposal verbally at a previous negotiation session.

The topics presented Thursday included:

· Extracurricular pay: The teachers association proposed that teachers be paid $60 for each hour of work spent outside of the school day, including attending meetings, workshops or professional development activities. When Tim Thornburg, employee and labor relations coordinator for the board and chief negotiator, asked the association why they selected that amount, a member of the association's negotiating team said because teachers were "worth" it. She said that two advertised positions on the school system's Web site offered positions requiring no more than a high school education pay of $40 per hour and $50 per hour.

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"You have gotten a lot for your buck," she said. "It's (teachers) that have made the test scores go up. Maybe we should start to see some benefits."

Thornburg said he was not prepared to comment on either of the teachers association's proposals until he consults with the board. He said the board's negotiating team was prepared to make a counterproposal on at least one of the association's proposals after a one-hour private caucus, but negotiations ended for the night at the association's request.

· Health insurance: The teachers association proposed that a committee form with representatives from all associations and one from human resources. The committee would ensure accountability and monitor health industry trends, according to the teachers association. Health insurance for part-time employees also was discussed. The school system does not provide health-care benefits for part-time employees, Thornburg said.

· Salary: Thornburg said the board proposed a 3 percent salary increase, plus a step increase. He said the board also would like to negotiate incentives for recruiting and retaining teachers.

"We want to continue to attract and retain the best," he said.

The board's proposal also included a requirement that teachers in schools that might be in danger of not making adequate yearly progress work two weeks outside of the regular school year on professional development. Those teachers would receive written notice of the professional development, be paid a "per diem" rate for their time and receive an additional half of a sick day.

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