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Published: Wednesday, 6/18/2008

Bedford teachers get raise, give health-care concessions

BY ANGIE SCHMITT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TEMPERANCE - Bedford Public School teachers have been granted 4 percent raises over three years in a new contract approved by the board of education last week.

The more than 300 employees represented by the Bedford Education Association have also accepted health care concessions as part of the three-year contract, which will be retroactive to the 2007-2008 year. The union also includes nurses, literacy coaches, and student support coordinators.

Members of the association will receive a 0.5 percent raise for the 2007-2008 school year, a 1.5 percent raise for the 2008-2009 school year, and a 2 percent raise for 2009-2010.

Teachers will also receive a $150 one-time payment for achieving the state's standard for adequate yearly progress last year.

The pay increase will raise the pay scale from its current minimum of $33,550 and maximum of $67,616 to between $34,908 and $70,352 by 2009-2010.

In exchange, the union has agreed to a $5-10 increase in prescription co-payments and a $5 increase in medical office visits.

Bedford Schools will also institute a deductible insurance program; however, the district will reimburse employees for the deductible amount, said Wes Berger, assistant superintendent of human resources.

Persuading union members to accept a greater portion of their health care expenses was a priority for the district, Mr. Berger said. Health benefits cost the district an average of $16,000 per employee annually, he said. The concessions will save the district 15 percent on its health care expenses, Mr. Berger said. As a result of the agreement, the district's health insurance expenses are expected to be lower this year than they were last year.

"We gave the teachers as much as we could give," he said. "They offered health care concessions and we tried to give that money back in salaries."

Colleen Jan, president of Bedford's education association, said that some union members were disappointed with the agreement to accept health concessions and less than a 1 percent raise for 2007-2008.

"For 30 years, we have taken less in our raises in order to offset the increases in our health insurance," she said.

The new contract is the result of more than a year of negotiations that began last spring.

The school board has also approved a new three-year contract for its 63 paraprofessional employees, or teachers' aides. The contract grants paraprofessionals a raise of about 1.5 percent each year, Mr. Berger said.

Paraprofessionals, many of whom serve special education students, do not receive health benefits and make between $10.60 and $11.05 per hour.

Contact Angie Schmitt at:

aschmitt@theblade.com

or 419-724-6104.



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