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Published: Wednesday, 9/29/2010

Ida Schools OKs 1-year pact with district's 97 teachers

IDA, Mich. - After a two-year stalemate in negotiations, Ida Public Schools has a new labor agreement with the district's 97 teachers.

The Board of Education last week approved a new one-year contract that gives instructors immediate 1 percent pay increases.

Teachers, who had been without wage increases since the old contract ended June 30, 2008, also received a one-time payment of $500 each.

The teachers' union was the last of the employee groups and unions to settle with the district.

Custodians and teaching assistants, which are represented by unions, and food service, bus drivers, and administrators were given 1 percent wage increases.

The annual pay scale for beginning teachers increased from $34,297 to $34,640; the salary for teachers at the top end rose from $63,058 to $63,689.

The board voted 5-0 vote on the new contract. Brian DeLand and Mitch Steils were not present for the special meeting.

"The Board of Education is pleased to reach an agreement with the teachers' union. We believe the teaching staff in Ida is absolutely superb and the board truly appreciates their commitment, dedication, and leadership," Superintendent Richard Carsten, who was hired over the summer, said.

The contract changed the teachers' health-care coverage. They will be responsibile for paying a $200 individual for $400 family deductible for in-network care, or a $400 individual or $800 family deductible for out-of-network care.

"We didn't want to go another year without a contract," board President Mark Mathis said. "We will go back to negotiating a new contract in May of next year."

The school district and teachers also agreed to establish a committee to look into possibly changing the evaluation and compensation system to follow recent state law changes.

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