Vermont Business Magazine After 11 months of negotiations, the South Burlington School Board and the South Burlington Educators’ Association (“SBEA”) agreed to the terms of a two-year contract for the city’s teachers in the early morning hours of October 4. They released terms of the new deal Friday morning. The contract spans the period from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2019. Salaries and cost-sharing arrangements for healthcare benefits were the most significant proposals still under discussion as the parties entered the final 10-hour mediation session on Tuesday evening.
“We are pleased that we have been able to negotiate an agreement that we believe reflects the needs of all stakeholders, including teachers, children, families, and taxpayers,” said Martin LaLonde, Clerk of the School Board.
With respect to salaries, the parties agreed to a 2.17% increase in FY 2018, with the new funds distributed across the salary schedule in flat dollar increments - $2,000 for teachers in the BA columns and $1,700 for those in the MA columns, with the exception of those at MA
30, step 18, who received raises of $1,500. Teachers were held on step for FY 2018, and the average raise for FY 2018 was $1,679.
The Board agreed to return to an indexed methodology to calculate salaries in FY 2019, using multipliers that have been “recalibrated” based on the flat dollar raises that were provided in FY 2018. The parties agreed to a small adjustment to the top step – Masters
30, step 18 – from 2.01 to 2.015 times the base salary. Teachers will also advance on step on the salary schedule in FY 2019. In total, the agreement for FY 2019 adds 2.49% new money to teachers’ salaries.
Healthcare plans provided to employees by the District will be replaced with 4 new plans developed by the Vermont Education Health Initiative (“VEHI”) as of January 1, 2018. The District will continue to pay 83% of the premium cost for the VHP Dual Option plan (the one currently used by more than 90% of the District’s employees) for the first six months of the contract. Teachers will pay 17% plus any out-of-pocket costs, which, for this plan, average approximately $400 per covered life per year in co-pays. This represents the same cost-sharing arrangement as in the last year of the previous contract. For the second six months of FY 2018 and through FY 2019, the District will pay 80% of the premium cost of the CDHP Gold plan toward the premium of the plan chosen by the employee.
While premiums are lower for the new health plans, maximum out-of-pocket (“OOP”) costs are higher. Employees will pay the first $400 (single plan)/$800 (two-person or parent/child(ren) plan)/$1,000 (family plan) of OOP costs on an annual basis. The District will then pay the remainder of the OOP maximum on the CDHP Gold plan through a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (“HRA”), up to $2,100 (single plan)/$4,200 (two-person or parent/child plan)/$4,000 (family plan). If an employee chooses another plan, they will be responsible for any remaining OOP amounts beyond the District’s contribution.
Employees have the option of establishing a tax-advantaged Health Savings Account (“HSA”) to fund OOP expenses as an alternative to the employer-owned HRA, and the District will match employee contributions up to $400 for single, $800 for 2-person and parent/child(ren) and $1,200 for family coverage. Funds in an HSA become an employee-owned asset and can be built up over time to pay for healthcare costs. “The Board has worked hard to address the needs of our teachers as expressed by the SBEA, and we believe this agreement accomplishes that. The contract also makes progress on the Board’s goals of making compensation for our more junior teachers more competitive and improving the sustainability of the District’s budget. We are pleased that both sides were willing to make the concessions necessary to reach an agreement without a strike,” said Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Chair of the Board.
The SBEA ratified the terms of the contract at a meeting on Wednesday, October 4. The Board unanimously ratified the terms during a special meeting on Friday, October 6. In addition to the terms of the contract, the parties agreed to implement a side letter on rules related to faculty meetings and a separate letter regarding the cash-in-lieu payment received by employees who decline District health coverage. Further details regarding the contract and the side letters will be posted on the District website at https://www.sbschools.net/Page/716.
Source: SOUTH BURLINGTON SCHOOL DISTRICT 10.6.2017