The Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education has approved a new, one-year contract with the school district’s 160 teachers, represented by the Three Rivers Education Association (TREA). As noted briefly in an earlier River Country Journal story, the action came during the board’s regular June meeting Monday evening (June 20th).
During the meeting and in a post-meeting interview, Superintendent Roger Rathburn highlighted key points of the new labor agreement:
- “On the wage side, there’s no percentage increase, but there is a table of step increases and all the teachers are going to get a step increase.”
- The insurance policy was modified to include a $300/$600 deductible in-network and a $600/$1,200 deductible out-of-network.
- “In addition to the deductible, there’s an office co-pay of what they call ’10-25-50.’ It’s $10 for a general office visit, $25 for urgent care, and $50 if you visit the emergency room.”
Rathburn explained that the deductible and office co-pay modifications dropped the school district’s insurance premium about 8 ½ percent, “which is significant on a couple of million dollars, and then, on dropping our premium, through the modifications to the plan, the teachers were willing to pay 20 percent of the premium.” He described that as “a significant increase from what they were paying before so the district will save several hundred thousand dollars to help offset the huge deficit that was coming and try and balance it a little bit better.”
Board President Susan Schmidtendorff expressed appreciation to everyone involved in the negotiations during difficult times. She also voiced concerns about the shifting balance resulting from school funding changes at the state level and the impact of those changes on the ability to attract people to the teaching profession in the future.
Lisa Wilkins, president of the TREA, also commented on the new contract in a post-meeting interview. She said, “I think the contract is adequate for the times. Both sides mutually had to give up things for the contract to work. It’s not anything anybody wanted, but we all had to give concessions and it’s doable for a year, but it’s definitely not one of the best contracts we’ve ever had.” She said the negotiations process was “very challenging” because of all the funding cuts, but added, “We do work well together so it’s not a ‘them against us.’ We work together.” And she said, “It was the best we could do in the situation.”
Since Monday’s board meeting, there’s been tentative agreement on a new contract with the Three Rivers Educational Support Personnel Association (TRESPA), which represents custodians, secretaries and bus drivers. A special board meeting has been scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday (June 29th) in the superintendent’s office to consider ratification of the agreement.
To hear the interviews with Roger Rathburn and Lisa Wilkins – conducted by Bruce Snook of the River Country Journal – click on the links below: