Salary increase, healthcare plan change part of new CHEA agreement

According to the memorandum of agreement ratified by CHEA and the Cherry Hill Board of Education, the two sides agreed to a two-year contract featuring annual salary increases and a change in health insurance plans.

An increase of salary and a change in the health benefits plan are some of the new features in the recent agreement between the Cherry Hill Board of Education and the Cherry Hill Education Association.

In late June, the board and CHEA agreed to terms on a new, two-year contract. The terms of the contract are spelled out in a memorandum of agreement dated June 5 and signed by the negotiating teams of both sides. CHEA membership ratified the agreement on June 25, with the board approving the agreement the next day at its regular meeting. The Sun received a copy of the memorandum of agreement after filling an Open Public Records Act request with the school district.

According to the MOA, the contract will last for two years, expiring on June 30, 2020. CHEA members will receive raises in both the 2018–19 and 2019–20 school years. Certificated staff, which includes teachers, education services personnel and school business administrators, will move up one step up on the salary guide each year. The percentage of the increase will vary by staff member depending on what step of the guide they are located. The MOA also says “Salary Guides are to be mutually developed and agreed upon by both parties.” No salary guides were attached to the MOA.

All other CHEA staff members will receive an increase of 3.26 percent in base salary for 2018–19. In the 2019–20 school year, non-certificated salaries will increase by 3.24 percent. Non-certificated staff include secretarial employees, support staff, custodians and technology employees.

A small change will also take place with employee health benefits. The two sides have agreed to switch base health insurance plans from Direct 15 to Direct 15/25.

The MOA does not identify the specific health-care provider, but in an email, public information officer Barbara Wilson confirmed the district now uses Horizon for health benefits. The previous CHEA contract included a switch to the School Employees Health Benefits Plan. Wilson said the district moved out of SEHBP in July 2017.

The MOA also includes a cap on health-care contributions for CHEA members. According to the agreement, the state-mandated health-care contribution for CHEA members will not exceed $8,000 for the 2018–19 school year and cannot exceed $9,000 for the 2019–20 school year. Once the contract expires, the provisions on health-care contribution limits will “sunset” and revert to the state-mandated contribution.

According to the agreement, all other terms previously agreed to remain settled and will be incorporated into the new contract and any other terms will remain the same.

The Cherry Hill Sun originally filed an Open Public Records Act request to receive the new contract between the two sides. However, a district official said the request could not be fulfilled, as the contract is currently being updated and not yet final. According to a statement from Cherry Hill Public Schools HR director Nancy Adrian, the district is currently updating the contract to include the terms of the MOA as well as some formatting changes.

“Once the contract is finalized and signed off on, it will be posted on the district website,” Adrian said through an email.

The new agreement between the board and CHEA was ratified prior to the expiration of the previous contract on June 30. It was a big change for both sides from the previous round of negotiations, when the board and CHEA didn’t ratify the 2014–2018 agreement until February of 2016, 20 months after the previous contract’s expiration. After ratification of the agreement, both board members and CHEA President Steve Redfearn spoke highly of how negotiations proceeded and how the two sides were able to reach an agreement prior to the expiration of the previous contract.