Friday, May 6th, 2011
By Amy Kronenberger
Celina teachers agree to 2-year pay freeze
  CELINA - Members of the Celina Education Association have agreed to freeze their base pay and step pay for two years.
The CEA and school board members reached the contract agreement during a special meeting Wednesday.
It is the second local union to agree to such salary terms. The Coldwater Teachers Union last week made the same move. Teachers' contracts historically include an increase in base salary and step pay, which is based on a teacher's education and years of experience.
The Celina teachers also agreed to convert their insurance contribution from a fixed dollar amount to a percentage. This will potentially increase their contribution to healthcare as the cost of insurance continues to rise, superintendent Matt Miller said.
Celina teachers will start paying 7.5 percent of their health insurance premium for their contract beginning next school year. They now pay $115 per month for a family and $45 per month for a single, which equates to 7.5 percent.  
Miller said the negotiation process went smoothly, lasting only about three weeks. The union presented a rollover contract to the board with the addition of freezes to the base and step pay, Miller said. The board then sent back the proposal with the insurance changes added and the union accepted it.
"The freeze in salary is another step in addressing the district's $4 million deficit and helps keep current educational programs in place," Miller said. "I appreciate the joint cooperation in getting an agreement done, especially with the uncertainty of what's at stake in education over the next several years. I see this as a positive step for our community."
The last contract began Sept. 1, 2009, and will expire Aug. 31, 2011. In that contract, teachers received a 1.65 percent pay raise in 2009 and 1.5 percent increase in 2010.
Voters on Tuesday approved a five-year renewal levy with an additional tax for the school district. The issue will guarantee an annual collection of $4.9 million for operating expenses.
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