School staff contract OK’d

AMHERST – Information specialists, food workers other support staff in the elementary and middle schools have a new five-year contract.

Along with restructured job titles and salary schedules, the collective bargaining agreement between the Amherst School Board and the 69-member Amherst Support Staff Association shifts more health insurance costs onto employees.

The pact also moves health insurance away from an 86 percent district contribution to one in which the district contributes a flat dollar amount regardless of the plan. In the first year, there is a 78 percent district contribution and 75 percent in the final year.

The prescription benefit employee co-pay was changed for all plans from $1/$3/$5 to $10/$20/$45 for all employees.

The tentative agreement will mean increased costs of about $49,500 the first year, less than $35,000 in years two through four, and approximately $46,000 in the final year, according to a the Amherst School Board, with exact amounts updated when new health insurance rates are received this fall.

The contract starts July 1 of next year, with total costs going up approximately 1.8 percent in the first year, 1.2 percent in years two through four, and 1.5 percent in year five.

The union also represents paraprofessionals, office managers, health assistants and library assistants.

Voters in Amherst will be asked to approve the cost items associated with the agreement on election day, March 13.

In its press release, the school board says it “greatly values its support staff and the vital role they play in the education of our children. The ASSA is full of dedicated, hard-working, and child-focused individuals who make a difference in some of the most thankless jobs in our school system … and “the parties are proud of the work that was done to produce an agreement that is fair to both parties and a win for taxpayers” with a negotiation process was collaborative, thoughtful, and positive.”