Friday December 7, 2012

DAWSON RASPUZZI

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Bennington School District was the first to ratify a new five-year labor contract for Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union school administrators Wednesday.

The contract, which will take effect July 1, 2013, if approved by the other school districts, has few changes from the previous agreement and maintains the same salary formula that has been in place.

Negotiations began in October and consisted largely of clarifying language from the current contract, said Superintendent Catherine McClure.

The most significant change is an agreement that negotiations regarding health insurance may to be reopened annually due to an uncertainty of what the future will bring in regard to health care services and costs. Administrators may elect one of two insurance plans provided by the Vermont Education Health Initiative, of which the district will pay 80 percent of the cost or pay administrators $2,000 if they opt to receive health insurance elsewhere. Because federal and state laws may be implemented during the course of the contract and affect the availability of the specific VEHI plans, the coverage they provide, and the costs, the contract calls for renegotiating the health insurance benefits every March.

Other than that, changes in the contract that covers principals as well as associate and assistant principals are largely changes in wording and the inclusion of current practices that have not been in writing.

"It was a very positive negotiation.


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Our greatest challenge was the health insurance in light of what's happening in the state and federal governments with health insurance," McClure said.

Similar to previous contracts, administrative salaries are determined, in part, by administrative experience, contracted days, the number of students and number of staff in the school. The more of each that an administrators has, the more is tacked on to a base rate that is equivalent to the highest paid teacher in the supervisory union the preceding year.

One addition to the 2013-2018 agreement is the addition of language that prohibits an administrator's salary to be reduced based on a reduction in students in a particular school over the course of the contract.

The contract still must be approved by the school districts of Pownal, Shaftsbury, North Bennington and Mount Anthony Union. Woodford School District, which is the only other district in SVSU, is not a part of the collective bargaining unit.

With ratification of the administrative contract anticipated to be final by the end of the month, school districts are then expected to begin negotiating in January with support staff for a new contract that would take effect next July.

Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at draspuzzi@benningtonbanner.com or follow on Twitter @DawsonRaspuzzi