Athletic policy changes, salary increases and paying more for health insurance benefits are part of a five-year contract between the Corry Area School District and the Corry Area Education Association (teacher's union) that was adopted Monday night by members of the board of education.
The contract, which is effective Sept. 1, 2019, through Aug. 31, 2024, was unanimously approved by the board with a 9-0 vote.
"I believe the contract is a win-win for both sides," said CASD Superintendent Sheri Yetzer, who added the negotiating process began in January. "I believe both sides bargained in good faith and the contract is competitive to other districts in the tri-county area."
Joel Cook, a member of the Corry Area School Board who was one of two representatives of a board negotiating committee, also felt the outcome is positive.
"The process went well, and both sides are happy and everyone was respectful," he said. "This lets the district move forward for the next five years without anything hanging over them."
Per the contract, two key changes were made to athletic supplemental positions.
If a coaching position is held by an individual who is not an employee of the district (who is referred to as nondistrict) the school district will no longer repost that job as an open position each year.
Past practice has been that employees of the district had priority in obtaining athletic positions. And, if a specific position was being held by a nondistrict individual, that job would be reposted each year to allow a district employee the opportunity to apply for that position.
That practice came under scrutiny last winter when the job of a nondistrict head football coach was posted and applied for by a district employee. The head coaching job was awarded to the school employee over the nondistrict resident.
The second change is if an athletic position does become available because an individual resigns or retires and does not plan to return, priority to fill that position will no longer be given to a district employee.
The job will be opened up both internally and externally at the same time and all candidates will be considered equally for the job.
"We want to get the best candidate for the position," said Bill West, director of secondary education for CASD. "It will be the same way for all athletic supplementals."
Past practice was to open the position internally first, and if the job is not filled, it would be opened externally to nondistrict residents.
However, priority for advisory positions such as student council, National Honor Society and class advisers will still be given to district employees, as it always has been.
Also in the new contract, teachers will receive salary increases each year over the next five years, which will average about 2.6 percent.
The increase will not be an individual 2.6 percent increase based on one's salary, rather it will be a 2.6 percent sum of money that is based on the total teacher salary figure and then spread out across the 16 steps.
It is up to CAEA to decide how to distribute the 2.6 percent, which is commonly based on a number of factors, including the number of steps and where the majority of teachers are in those steps.
For the health insurance portion, teacher's will pay a higher co-pay for emergency room visits. The fee will increase from $50 to $100.
Teachers will begin paying a higher deductible in January of 2021. From now through Dec. 31, 2019, the deductible fee will continue at $275 for an individual and $550 for a family.
Beginning in January 2021, those numbers will increase to $300 for an individual and $600 for a family.
Teachers will also have access to a new program called telemedicine. This program will allow employees and their family members to Skype with a doctor to receive a diagnosis and prescribed treatment. The service is meant to be a convenient way to receive medical assistance without having to travel to an office.
Co-pay for the service is $10 and there is no cost to the district for this program.
"The most important aspect in negotiating our contract for both parties — administration and teachers — was to make sure we negotiated in good faith," said CAEA President Megan Simmonsen. "That was accomplished throughout this tedious process working diligently to create an equitable agreement. Administration was able to get some needed language for the agreement and teachers were able to as well that truly focused on what is best for our students. We were willing to negotiate a comparable raise with our surrounding districts as well as a competitive benefits package. Our team feels that both parties were pleased with this new contract that will will be in effect for the next five years."