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Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Board, staff OK contract

Marion Local

By Margie Wuebker
MARIA STEIN - School board members and teachers have ratified a new, three-year contract that includes no salary or step increases during the first two years.
Interim Superintendent Doug Karst issued a press release this morning with the approval of the Marion Local Education Association (MLEA).
Teachers will receive no increase in base salary or step increases based on years of experience during years one and two. The agreement provides a 1 percent increase to base salary as well as step increases during the third year.
The agreement, which runs through June 30, 2014, includes cash payments of $400 the first year and $500 the second year to teachers to compensate for the lack of salary increase and to help cover concessions made in insurance and retirement benefits. Teachers also may qualify for one more severance day upon retirement.
The employees' share of health insurance premiums, now at 8 percent, will go to 10 percent the first year, 12 percent the second year and 15 percent the third year.
The district's contribution toward retirement will remain at 16 percent the first year before dropping to 15 percent the second year and 14 percent the final year.
Three board members at Wednesday's meeting - Charlie Otte, Elaine Perin and Kathy Speelman - approved the contract. Board members Ron Winner and Greg Garmann didn't attend the special session.
No representatives of the MLEA were present Wednesday night. Patty Lefeld, who serves as co-president of the organization, said this morning that teachers recognize the financial needs of the school district during difficult economic times.
"We have taken a pay freeze before; we realize those needs," Lefeld said. "We don't want to sacrifice the quality education our students receive and the quality work we do. Marion Local is an excellent school district and we want that to continue."
Lefeld added the contract gives teachers an opportunity to see what happens with Senate Bill 5.
Negotiations between the board and the MLEA began April 19. The process recessed and then resumed May 11, when negotiations began about 8 a.m. and concluded with a tentative agreement at 3 p.m.
According to Karst, the MLEA voted Monday to accept the contract.
SB 5 is scheduled to go into effect July 1. It restricts collective bargaining rights, terminates automatic pay raises and sets additional rules regarding the employment of public employees. A statewide movement is under way to put legislation on the November ballot to repeal the law.
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