West Shore to discuss teacher contract with public

Alyssa Jackson
  • The district has moved the school board's time and meeting place to update the public on negotiations.
  • The teachers union and the district have been negotiating since January 2014.
  • The school board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday in the high school auditorium.

West Shore School District has moved its school board meeting to provide the community with an update on its negotiations with West Shore Education Association.

The district and WSEA have been negotiating the teachers union contract since January 2014. The previous agreement ended Aug. 31, 2014. Since an agreement hasn't been reached, the district is operating under the terms of the old contract.

To update the community on the negotiations, the district has moved Thursday's school board meeting to 6 p.m. in the auditorium at Cedar Cliff High School. According to a news release from the district, the meeting will provide additional information and answer questions about the district's best and final offer, which was sent to the WSEA on July 8.

Matthew Gonce, 3, picks dandelions outside Crossroads Middle School while his mother, Alison Gonce, joins fellow West Shore Education Association teachers in protest in April. Photo by John Joyce

WSEA responded to the proposal Aug. 22 at a negotiation session with its own counterproposal. The district reviewed the proposal and found that it "deviated significantly from the district's 'best and final offer' on three core issues: salary schedules, health care benefits and the Cadillac tax," the news release stated.

West Shore teacher contract negotiations continue

These three issues have been the sticking point in negotiations. WSEA hopes to increase teacher salaries, but the district maintains that most of the district's teachers have the highest salaries in the region. In a previous interview, Kevin Downs, president of the WSEA, said the district would like to eventually lower starting teacher salaries, causing the contention between the district and teachers union.

The Cadillac tax is another point of contention in negotiations. The tax would begin in 2020 and would tax employers that provide a health plan that has excessive benefits, with the federal government determining what constitutes "excessive." The district is opposed to taxpayers having to pay the Cadillac tax, and under WSEA's proposal they would eventually be liable.

Downs said a new contract would be negotiated before the tax becomes an issue, and the benefits could be fixed at a later date.

According to the news release, the district issued a statement to WSEA that says the proposal "leaves us with no place to continue the current discussion."

Documents on West Shore School District's website have detailed information regarding the negotiations. All community members are encouraged to attend Thursday's school board meeting.