York Suburban board approves new teacher contract

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch

Health care changes and salary increases are coming to York Suburban educators after the school board approved a new teacher contract at its regular monthly meeting on Monday, Nov. 20.

Joel Sears, right, is sworn in by York Suburban Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent Wendy Erwine at a special board meeting on Monday, October 17, 2017. Sears disagreed called the salary increase of a new teacher contract "disingenuous" at a Nov. 20 board meeting.

The new three-year deal requires the employees to pay more toward their health insurance and gives them a 2 percent yearly increase.

The agreement was passed on an 8-1 vote. Board member Joel Sears was the sole vote against the measure.

The district is changing the health benefit plan to a high-deductible health plan with health savings accounts, which board treasurer John Posenau said will help mitigate costs that are “moving toward an unsustainable rate” for the district.

The district-supported deductibles will be $1,500 for an individual or $3,000 for family coverage and will require an employee contribution of 10 percent of the total cost of medical and dental insurance.

The new health plan will kick in July 1, 2018.

Posenau added that the 2 percent salary increases were meant to recognize teacher performance “without breaking the district” in the process.

“We think this was an overall fair plan,” he said. “Nobody got everything they wanted.”

However, Sears took issue with the pay increases.

He mentioned a scenario, based on a pay schedule provided to board members, that suggests a staff member making $51,000 a year could boost his or her earnings to more than $73,000 annually in five years when performance evaluations are included.

“To represent that to be even close to 2 percent is disingenuous,” Sears said.

The board should be more strategic in how it drafts such agreements and change the way it evaluates teachers, he added.

Posenau said teacher performance and cost-of-living increases are two different measurements.

Regarding teacher performance, Posenau said the district’s teachers and parents deliver the highest-performing students in the county and in the state.

“(We need to) recognize excellence and maintain that position,” he said.

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Departing board member Cathy Shaffer thanked the committee in charge of negotiations and the York Suburban Education Association, the local teachers union.

“There are lots of long, late meetings on both parts, and I appreciate the fact that both sides were able to not completely get what they want but come away somewhat comfortable,” Shaffer said.

Fellow board member Michael Thoman also thanked the board, though he added, "Mr. Sears makes some sense to me" in his argument on salary raises.

Reach education reporter Junior Gonzalez via email at jgonzalez@yorkdispatch.com and on Twitter @EducationYD.