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Teachers to get 7 percent salary hike

June 19, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - The Washington County Teachers Association and the Board of Education have tentatively agreed on teachers' contracts for the 2007-08 school year.

That announcement comes after six months of negotiations that led to state officials declaring talks at an impasse in May.

The contract is scheduled to be signed during the board's business meeting tonight.

"We're very happy that an agreement was reached that I feel benefits our teachers," Board President Roxanne R. Ober said.

The agreement gives teachers a 7 percent salary increase, plus a step increase, she said. Ober called this an "excellent raise for our teachers." She said the tentative agreement requires the school system to pay half of the individual and premium health-care costs for employees working up to 30 hours per week.

Tuition reimbursement will increase to $294 per credit for a preapproved course of study for a maximum of nine credit hours, she said.

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The current contract language will remain in place for voluntary transfers, Ober said.

The board will provide vision coverage, effective July 1, 2008, and coverage details will be determined by the board, she said.

Ober said the teachers union's membership was overwhelmingly in support of the tentative agreement.

"The Maryland State Teachers Association and the Washington County Teachers Association appreciate the board's 7 percent salary enhancement, tuition reimbursement increase and insurance improvements on behalf of our public school teachers who work extremely hard on behalf of our community's youth and who deserve the best possible compensation for the dedication to our children," said T. Scott Miller, Maryland State Teachers Association UniServ Director and chief negotiator. "By providing exceptional compensation, the board can retain the best possible educators to serve students."

In March, the Board of Education said that contract negotiations with the teachers union could go no further without help from the state. At the time, officials said they would recommend that an impasse be declared.

Officials have said if the board and teachers union had agreed, the state board of education could have mediated the talks.

If not, a three-party panel is typically created with one representative from each side and one additional member approved by both sides.

Ober said that State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick declared negotiations at an impasse in a letter dated May 8. Ober said she believes that no state mediation was necessary for a tentative agreement to be reached.

"We're very happy that negotiations are over," she said. "We feel this is teacher-friendly and hope it ultimately benefits the students."




Know more in 30 seconds



The issue: The Washington County Teachers Association and the Board of Education have been negotiating the 2007-08 school year contract since December 2006.

What's new: Both sides have reached a tentative agreement that would, among other things, guarantee a 7 percent pay increase for teachers.

What's next: Board President Roxanne R. Ober, Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, Teachers Association President Denise Fry and others are scheduled to sign the contract during the board's business meeting today.




Core contract issues



Highlights of the tentative agreement on teachers' contracts for the 2007-08 school year include:

· 7 percent salary increase, plus a step increase

· Tuition reimbursement will increase to $294 per credit

· Vision care

· Board will pay 50 percent of the individual and premium health care costs for employees working up to 30 hours per week.

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