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Crawford School Corp., CTA reach contract settlement

March 12, 2008
The Crawford County Community School Corp. and Crawford County Classroom Teachers Association have reached agreement on a two-year contract that will bump the salary schedule up by 2.25 percent for 2007-08 but allows a pay increase for 2008-09 to be negotiated later.

In a special session Tuesday, March 4, the school board voted 5-1 (Roger Haverstock against; Myrna Sanders was absent due to a family matter) to approve the contract about 90 minutes after the CTA membership ratified the agreement.

In addition to the 2.25-percent salary increase for the 2007-08 school year, the contract calls for a 1/2-percent salary stipend for the balance of the 2007-08 year. Since it is for just the remainder of the year, the stipend, in reality, is closer to 1/4 percent.

While the stipend doesn't affect the salary schedule for this year, the contract calls for another 1/2-percent salary stipend for 2008-09 that would go onto the schedule. It would be in addition to any other salary increase negotiated for the 2008-09 year.

However, the 1/2 percent for next year would only be in effect if the corporation's health insurance premium doesn't increase by more than 8 percent.

"If insurance would go up more, we don't know if we could afford a salary increase," Superintendent Dr. Mark Eastridge said.

The contract also calls for the CTA to sign off on the corporation's change last fall to have Sun Life Insurance handle health insurance claims. The corporation didn't change benefits, with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield still providing the same coverage, only the entity handling the claims in an effort to saved thousands of dollars.

Upon ratification of the contract, the CTA agreed to drop a grievance it had filed against the school corporation for violating the terms of the previous contact, whose language remained in effect while a new contract was being negotiated, by making the change without CTA approval.

The CTA, in the new contract, allows the school corporation to make such changes in the future without CTA approval as long as the actual benefits do not change.

Eric Belcher, co-president of the CTA, said it was never the CTA's intention to financially harm the corporation.

"My goodness, it would be ridiculous to cut off you nose to spite your face," Belcher said.

Insurance concessions made by the CTA in the previous contract that call for members to pay a percentage of their premiums based on the percentage increase will remain in effect.

Belcher and Eastridge agreed that while the health insurance isn't up for renewal until later this year, they want to begin researching plans now, in an attempt to get the best possible price.

Belcher added the CTA is "especially tickled" to get across-the-board pay increases for extracurricular positions for the first time in years.

"We're really glad of that," he said.

Reaching settlement on the contract, which runs through the summer of 2009, is important for the morale of CTA members, Belcher said, because it shows the corporation's commitment.

"It absolutely is a positive," he said.

Eastridge said the school board chose to give support staff the same salary increase to which it and the CTA agreed.

"It was important to the board and myself (that) we spoke to the needs of our support staff," he said.

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Barbara Shaw
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