W-G approves teachers’ contract

The Waynesfield-Goshen Board of Education and the Waynesfield-Goshen Education Association (WGEA) have reached a contract agreement after four months of negotiating.

The Waynesfield-Goshen Board of Education approved the new one-year agreement to extend through June 30, 2013, with the WGEA during a regular monthly meeting this week.

Terms of the agreement, which had been under negotiation since April, included no salary increase or experience steps for teachers, however, those teachers who would have been eligible to move a step based on experience are to receive a one-time stipend between $250 and $500 for the year. Terms of the approved contract also include a decrease in the majority of supplemental contract salaries and increases to teachers’ share of health insurance premiums from 10 to 15 percent. The teacher share of premium per family plan is to increase $750 a year.

“The board values the teaching staff and appreciates the gains made in student performance this year (high school students scored four points above an excellent rating on state tests),” said Waynesfield-Goshen Board of Education President David Pepple. “However, it is simply a factor of the current economic times, in combination with state funding, that the district simply could not give raises and needed to have all staff make a larger contribution for health insurance premiums.”

Pepple said with continuing deficit spending, it is very important that the state develop an equitable funding system in the next biennium, which begins July 1, 2013.

The WGEA declined to comment on the new contract.

A number of non-financial elements of the agreement also were modified, including bringing the teacher Reduction-In-Force article and the teacher evaluation system article into compliance with new law.

The parties agreed to establish several new operational guidelines that should help focus effort on increased student achievement.

The agreement affects 40 teachers in the district.

“We need to know what the state is going to do with funds,” Waynesfield-Goshen Superintendent Chris Pfister said of the decision to go with a one-year contract at this point.

“It could go either way,” he said.

District administrators expect to know more about what the state may do with funding in a year.    Pfister said contracts usually are negotiated every two years, but this year they are waiting to see what the state may provide to the district.

“It’s hard to do anything long term,” Pfister said. “There are too many unknowns.”

Classified staff are currently in their second year of a two-year contract, so the district will be negotiating two contracts next year.

“We have a lot of dedicated people, just no money,” Pfister said. “It is what it is. We just have to wait to see if the state is willing to come and help.”

Classes for Waynesfield-Goshen students resume on Thursday for the 2012-13 school year, with a teacher’s day today.