2012-06-14 / Front Page

SF,Teachers’ Union OK Contract

Five-year agreement begins retroactive to July 1, 2010
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

After several years of bargaining and conceding on matters of importance, the Southern Fulton School District and the Southern Fulton Education Association have finally reached an agreement.

At a meeting last Tuesday, the Southern Fulton School District gave a unanimous nod of approval to a five-year agreement with the teacher’s union. The matter was accepted on a 7-0 roll-call vote. Board members Danny Crouse and Allen Morton were unable to attend the June 5 special meeting.

“After an extensive period of time, we are pleased to announce that we have come to an agreement regarding the professional staff contract for the Southern Fulton School District,” said the district and Education Association in a prepared joint statement to the “News.” “Healthcare costs and salary were the major issues being negotiated. Because both sides were working in the best interests of students and the community, concessions were made on both sides. Significant changes were made to healthcare in order to save the district money during these difficult times.”

Signing the document on behalf of the district was board President Tim Mellott. High school teacher and Education Association President Jon Diffenderfer signed for the teachers’ union, resulting in the agreement taking effect retroactive to July 1, 2010, and ending June 30, 2015.

The agreement was a long time in the making for both the district and its professional staff. Having been in negotiations for well over two years, the matter even went as far as having a fact-finder’s report issued that was rejected, sending the two parties back to the drawing board.

As salary and pay raises are always a matter of contention in the preparation of contracts, it was finally agreed upon by the involved parties to freeze salaries during the 2010-11 school year. The decision was not only limited to increases as it also eliminated any step movements from occurring.

Increases in the 2011-12 school year that ended in late May were set at 2 percent with no step movement. Follow-up increases were 2.5 percent inclusive of step movement in 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15.

The salary section of the agreement also goes on to say extracurricular salaries will be increased as follows: 2010-11 and 2011-12, frozen; and 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15, 2:5 percent increase except as indicated in the extracurricular compensation schedule.

The possibility of a teacher receiving a bonus was also outlined through a section entitled “adequate yearly progress bonus.” According to the document, professional staff in buildings earning adequate yearly progress (AYP) through annual PSSA testing are entitled to an individual bonus of $100 for each of the years set forth over the established fiveyear time frame. In the event an employee is assigned to both buildings, they are only eligible to receive a total of $100 or $50 per building.

The employee is required, however, to have been a member of the building’s staff for at least 45 student days before the beginning of PSSA test dates. In addition, AYP must be achieved by attaining or surpassing “cut scores” established by the state Department of Education. “Safe Harbor” exceptions will not apply unless waived by the school board.

Overhauling the section “employee fringe benefits,” teachers will now be offered a “qualified high deductible health plan (HDHP),” currently $1,200/$2,400, in connection with a health savings account (HSA). The HDHP is offered at no premium share to the employee.

“Once the district contributes its one-half share of the yearly deductible, then covered employees shall be responsible to pay up to the remaining yearly deductible costs if they incur such services to satisfy the applicable yearly deductible,” said the document, which notes it is optional for employees to contribute to a HSA. Furthermore, depending on coverage selected by an employee, the district will contribute a certain amount to the HSA by July 1 annually.

The agreement also targeted the topic of medical insurance opt-outs by stating employees can elect to decline individual or family coverage. By opting out of health insurance by June 1 each year, employees are in turn eligible to receive $2,500 cash annually.

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