By Sue Botos
After a snow day delay, the school board approved a three-year agreement with the Rocky River Teachers Association at a brief special meeting following its March 13 committee of the whole session. The contract will be in effect from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2017.
“This was a very important process for the district,” board President Jay Milano stated after the vote. “These were serious negotiations with sharp points on both sides. It was important for everyone to maintain the integrity of the district, protect the taxpayers’ money, both long and short term, and to recognize the contribution of our teachers, who are among our most valuable assets. We’re all confident that the process has achieved these three goals,” he added.
There was no other public comment or discussion by the board before the contract’s approval. Prior to the committee meeting, the board met behind closed doors for about an hour to discuss “matters of labor negotiations and personnel.” Copies of the contract were not made available to the public. West Life requested a copy of the contract from the board office, but it was not received by press time. School officials stated that the document needed further editing.
According to Superintendent Michael Shoaf, the agreement met the long-term fiscal goals of the board. The 1.75-percent increase in base pay over the next three years, he said, was made possible due to changes in the health care program for teachers. He mentioned that there were increases to premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses and prescription costs, but did not go into detail about the numbers. He added that a press release would be issued after the meeting, but that document did not go into specifics.
The previous teacher and employee contract froze base pay, but allowed payment of step increases based on experience and education. It also raised employee health care premiums from 3 to 11 percent. In addition, spouses of employees who qualify for health care through an employer or any public retirement plan were no longer eligible for coverage through the district. It was estimated that these moves provided the schools with about $1.6 million in savings over a two-year period.
Teachers union President Dave Opdycke commented via the press release, “One of the many things that makes Rocky River City Schools so strong is the commitment of both the administration and the teachers to work together on issues of concern to improve the experience for our students. These negotiations were about many things, but what made them successful was everyone’s dedication to the continued success of the students we serve.” He did not return a call from West Life.