Education association, school board agree on contract

The Bedford School Board and Bedford Education Association announced a new agreement for a two-year contract that will govern the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years.

Entering into negotiations this year, both sides were aware of the challenges they faced – the increase in health insurance costs and the fact that Bedford fell further behind its goal to provide compensation comparable to its peer districts.

According to Superintendent Chip McGee, “This year started with the guaranteed maximum health insurance rate increase of 19.7 percent.” In order to be prudently and fiscally responsible, BEA President Sue Mullen said that “as Bedford entered into discussions this fall, both sides were required to listen and become better educated about health care options.”

“If all three agreements are passed (the district’s professional, personnel, and staff support associations), we will be able to immediately take $2.4 million off of the district’s annual health insurance premium bill,” McGee noted. “If they do not pass, we will be back at square one, with contracts that require the district to fund a fixed percentage of the richest health insurance plan.”

Additionally, in the new agreement, the BEA and the BSB have taken several steps to address salaries. Historically the board and the association have agreed to aim for a competitive compensation package. However, as it stands now, teacher salaries “are more than five thousand dollars per teacher behind our peers,” McGee said.

“We are fortunate to have great staff, and we want to keep it that way. This was a tough negotiations, hard fought on both sides, but we came to a win win agreement,” said School Board Chairman Bill Kassler.

The polls are open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on March 14 in the Bedford High School gymnasium.

– Submitted by Bedford Education Association and Bedford School Board