A resounding round of applause from each school board member erupted after the ratification of the contract agreement between the Kennett Consolidated School District board and the Kennett Education Association was unanimously approved at the April meeting.
“(I thank both sides for) the patience, diligence and professionalism throughout the whole process,” said Board President Heather Schaen. “It wasn’t easy. The partnership showed really made all the difference.”
The collective bargaining agreement between the board and the association expired June 30, 2012, and since then, the representatives of the teachers’ union and the board have been working long and hard on an agreement.
On March 27, a tentative agreement was struck between the two entities. The teachers ratified the agreement on April 10 while the school board followed suit four days later.
“I think a lot of credit goes to the whole staff,” said Superintendent Barry Tomasetti. “Throughout the long two years, the focus was strong and progressive in moving students ahead. Not that I would expect anything else, but I’m thankful for that strong, instructional focus.”
The new agreement will run from July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2016.
The highlights of the four-year agreement, 2012 to 2016, include:
Salary: While in a status quo situation during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years there were no salary increases. Contract increases will be 2.7 percent during the 2014-15 school year inclusive of an adjustment made to beginning teacher salaries; and 2.7 percent in the final year of the contract in 2015-16.
Time: Teachers will continue to work 190 days a year and their work day will increase from seven hours and 15 minutes per day to seven hours and 20 minutes per day in the 2014-15 school year and seven hours and 25 minutes per day in the 2015-16 school year.
Benefits: In order to control costs, the Prescription Drug Plan will change to a 5/30/45 formulary plan with a 30-day maximum supply and a mandatory mail-in program for maintenance prescription drugs requiring two co-payments for a three-month supply. Also, the District base plan for medical benefits will move to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Personal Choice 20/30/70 plan in the 2014-15 school year. Beginning with the 2015-16 school year, employees will contribute 12 percent toward their medical coverage and for those opting for one of the buy-up plans, Personal Choice Option 7 or Personal Choice Option 10/20/70, they will incur all additional costs associated with this benefit.
Tuition Reimbursement: During the 2014-15 school year a cap has been placed on the number of yearly reimbursable credits to 12 per year for those teachers pursuing their permanent certification or an earned Master’s degree and up to nine credits beyond a Master’s degree. In the 2015-16 school year, those teachers pursuing credits beyond a Master’s degree will be limited to $3,250.00 per year in tuition reimbursement.
The board is required to approve a proposed final general operating budget at least 30 days before its approval. After more meetings among the finance committee, the budget for 2014-15 now stands just north of $76 million.
The budget was reduced roughly $242,000 during those meetings by decreasing salaries, benefits and facility rentals.
A notable difference is the tax increase.
What was originally at a 2.51 percent increase, the number has now been lowered to 2.05 percent ($103 per average residential property) and they will continue to deliberate and find ways to decrease the number even more before approving the final budget.
Outsourcing food service
The finance committee is looking into a comprehensive overview of the food service management company’s requested proposal process. The district is looking into four different options regarding food service, which is continuing in-house operations, outsourcing the complete operation, outsourcing all staff and outsourcing management only.
These four options were assessed on an identical basis and each numerical cost was also evaluated.
It was recommended by the selection committee to the finance committee to award the contract to an outside company for all staffing and operations. It was also recommended to add two options that would provide the best transitional programs to employees.
It would keep current employees in their current positions and their current pay, allow for similar benefits and unemployment over the summer months.
A special meeting will be held April 21 regarding this.
The board approved a request for the high school’s Foreign Language Department to permit a student trip to Italy from March 27 through April 5 next year. The dates are subject to change depending on final arrangements.
As it stands, the itinerary will include stops in Rome, Venice, Florence and Pompeii, among other places.
It is expected to have roughly 20 students partake in the overseas excursion.
Tomasetti will be seeking to revise the Act 80 Day submitted for students at Greenwood Elementary on June 20 to make up for the lost day of Feb. 10 when the transformer blew at the school.
Due to the string of wintry weather forcing more district closures, June 20 was turned into a make-up day for all the schools. Tomasetti is going to revise the request sent into the Department of Education and change the date from June 20 to June 23 instead.