By Margie Wuebker
MARIA STEIN -- Marion Local Schools board of education approved a new three-year contract with the Marion Local Education Association on Tuesday night.
The pact, which runs from July 1 of this year to June 30, 2007, provides 2.25 percent raises the first two years with a 2.5 percent salary hike during the final year.
Beginning Jan. 1, teachers also will pick up 3 percent of basic medical insurance costs in the first year of the contract with the figure rising to 5 percent during the latter two years. The same figures, as well as charges of $120 and $160, apply to additional medical insurance coverage. Teachers previously paid nothing toward insurance costs, according to Superintendent Andy Smith.
An employee opting for no insurance coverage will receive a one-time yearly payment of $1,500. The pact also sets mail-in drug order co-pays at $5.
Classified staff members, such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers, are not covered by a union. However, Smith added raises granted to teachers traditionally have been passed on to classified staff. This would require board action at a future meeting. "Negotiations began in early April and went smoothly," Smith told The Daily Standard. "We really didn't have any problems."
Officials had reported a tentative agreement at the April 13 board meeting with the new package to be presented to teachers later that week.
Board members met in executive session Tuesday for 41 minutes before taking action on consent agenda items, including the hiring of personnel. Following the closed door meeting, a motion to hire Henry Schwieterman as a high school language arts teacher died for lack of a second. The board decided the language arts position will be made available to current staff first.
"Staffing is still in a state of flux at this point," Smith said. "When we determine what openings need to be filled from the outside, we will match abilities to available positions."