Board of education, union settle on new contract

TEA, Board agreed to a new contract with an increase in salaries and health care coverage.

After months of negotiations, the Tabernacle Education Association and Board of Education have ratified a new contract.

The board approved the contract settlement at its Jan. 21 meeting. It includes a 2.95 percent salary increase for union employees, below the county’s average of roughly 3.2 percent.

“We reached an agreement on things such as salary, health benefits and working conditions for the staff,” said Kevin McCloy, BOE negotiations committee chairman. “As far as specifics, it’s available on the district’s website so one could look it up.

TEA Co-President Tom Crilley commended the board and union for working diligently, meeting after meeting, to settle on a contract beneficial to both sides. The contract’s term is July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021.

A union focus in the contract was health benefits, with the understanding staffers would retain coverage but should keep in mind the board’s constraints with the budget and state funding cuts.

Everyone is now able to look at their contracts and see where they are or will be and be able to plan for their lives,” Crilley promised. “It’ll be easier for them to plan those financial decisions.”

As contract issues came and went, Crilley wanted to create an ad-hoc committee between the board, union, administrators and members of the public to answer questions about the district’s consolidation effort. Hopes are that students are not negatively affected by any steps in the process, one that should remain as transparent as possible.

In an email sent to the board of education and provided to The Sun, TEA co-presidents Julie Toone and Crilley noted the choices the board has to make to keep schools operating.  They expressed confidence that a collaborative, transparent plan would address the financial issues and keep everyone informed.

This committee can bring to light many additional questions and, having the stakeholders present, will allow everyone to hear the answers,” the email said in part. “Additionally, having the staff and community involved in the decision-making process will allow whatever decisions being made (to) be supported and explained appropriately.”

Crilley stressed any action the union takes to raise awareness about the contract should be outside of students’ purview. But he acknowledged that some learned of the contract talks through adult discussions.

They should remain removed,” Crilley stated. “No board, community or union member should be discussing the contract. If I’m aware of it, my people will be talked to and we’ll make sure that we’re all on the same page that kids are not affected by this.

While the next contract isn’t due until 2021, both Crilley and McCloy aim to start negotiations at least six months prior to the expiration to provide a smooth transition from one agreement to the next.

I’m very happy to have reached an agreement between the association and the board,” McCloy reiterated. “I think it will now allow us to move forward collaboratively with all of the changes coming to the district.”

We’re ready to go and the staff has a weight off of their shoulders to know and understand where they are,” Crilley commented. “It’s one worry they can leave outside and unplug from the classroom.”