Milford teachers, school board agree on 3-year contract

MILFORD – The Milford teachers’ union has reached an agreement with the School Board that gives teachers 2 percent raises for each year of the three-year contract but also has them shoulder more of their health insurance costs.

Under the contract’s new health insurance plan, teachers would be responsible for up to $4,000 in deductible expenses annually for a two-person or family plan, and for up to $2,000 annually for a single plan.

The current plan has no deductibles, and the health insurance changes are expected to save the district $192,207 in the contract’s first year. A major board objective was to reduce long-term health insurance costs.

Suzanne Schedin, the chief teachers’ negotiator, said in a phone interview this week that teachers are “very pleased the two sides are in agreement.”

The majority of Milford’s teachers have had no raises in two years, she said, because they are no longer on the step schedule, which means they don’t get automatic increases.

There are no retroactive payments or make-up for salary steps that did not occur this year, under the terms of the agreement.

The new contract, which goes into effect July 1, ends a stalemate that had centered around health insurance premium coverage for teachers hired after the agreement. The board wanted to create a Group 3 of new employees who would have had less premium coverage.

The two sides began negotiating in August 2013 and when talks reached an impasse, a neutral factfinder was hired.

The factfinder recommended that the board drop the Group 3 proposal and the teachers association drop its proposal for a 2.25 percent cost of living adjustment in the contract’s third year.

Teachers agreed to accept the nonbinding recommendations, but the board contended the third tier was needed to control the cost of health insurance.

In a court-approved vote during the September primary election residents rejected the factfinder’s recommendations.

During the negotiations that resumed after the election, the Group 3 plan came off the table and was replaced by the deductibles.

Another teacher concession allows the school’s superintendent to hire a new, experienced teacher at an agreed-
upon salary that is less than the amount that would normally be due based on actual experience.

There are also changes to the dental plan that are cost increases.

According to a press release from the superintendent of school’s office, the first-year cost of the new proposal is $103,356 less than the first-year cost of the fact-finding proposal that was rejected by voters.

Voters have the final say on the contract on Election Day, March 10, and they can review it at the budget hearing on Jan. 20, and at the Deliberative Session tentatively scheduled for
Feb. 5.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.