School Board and Teachers Reach Agreement

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Thursday November 14, 2013

After a year of sometimes frustrating negotiations, the South Burlington School Board and the District’s teachers entered into a one-year collective bargaining agreement November 7.

Emphasizing the hard work done by both sides, Board Chair Elizabeth Fitzgerald praised the South Burlington Educators’ Association (SBEA) negotiators. “Eric Stone and his team did a professional job at the table,” she said, “and they continue that work in our classrooms.” Fitzgerald also thanked the SBEA negotiating team for “mutually establishing a good working foundation from which to continue this important discussion.”

Stone complimented the Board’s efforts and said he was pleased at “reaching an agreement that lets us all continue South Burlington’s decades-long tradition of excellence” He further described the agreement as “fair to us and good for our schools, students, and city.”

Highlights of the new agreement include:

3.0% new money ($516,779; 1.3% to those teachers eligible for step increases based on education/experience and 1.7% to base) retroactive to July 1, 2013; 

A 1% increase (from 15% to 16%) in teachers’ contributions to healthcare insurance effective December 1, based on a 10% premium increase from the Vermont Education Health Initiative (VEHI);

Board establishment of a tuition fund of $102,000 per school year (i.e., July 1 through June 30) to reimburse teachers for certain university or college credits. Teachers denied reimbursement in a given year based on unavailability of funds will be given priority for reimbursement in the next year ahead of teachers who were not denied reimbursement;

• Increased funds for workshops and seminars;

A requirement that the present study committee provide a written recommendation to the Board by December 15 regarding a possible annual incentive award for Speech Language Pathologists and Registered Nurses. The Board must issue a formal, written response to the recommendation within thirty (30) days of its presentation;

A requirement that any complaint regarding a teacher made to any member of the administration by any parent, student, or other person that could: 1) negatively affect a teacher’s evaluation; or 2) have other professional consequences for the teacher must be promptly investigated and brought to the teacher’s attention. The teacher will be given an opportunity to respond and/or rebut the complaint;

Extension of the  “Catastrophic Leave” contract provision to a serious medical condition affecting a teacher’s brother or sister in addition to those persons previously mentioned in the agreement.

The last collective bargaining agreement between the Board and the SBEA, a three-year pact, expired on June 30. By its terms, the new agreement begins on July 1, 2013 and extends until June 30, 2014.

SOURCE: Bill Wargo, Correspondent