The Oswego Education Association (OEA) and the Oswego 308 board of education have officially agreed on a three-year contract.
Members of the OEA voted Jan. 18 to approve the contract, which the board of education had previously unanimously approved on Jan. 14 with board president Bill Walsh abstaining from the vote because his wife is a teacher in the district.
A tentative agreement was reached prior to winter break, but voting was held until January.
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The vote was “closer than any I’ve ever been a part of,” said President of the OEA, Darla Medernach.
The vote for the teacher’s union passed 544 - 445 in favor of the contract.
One of the largest sticking points in negations was teacher salary and steps. Previously the board had proposed no salary step increases, but would still offer credit for years of service.
There will now be a monetary amount attached with salary and steps, although the number varies depending upon the salary schedule, said Mederach. The starting salary for the beginning teacher for the 2013-14 school year will rise half a percent to $40,200.
Medernach said the unfortunate point was, “if teachers don’t have a place to step to, there will not be any of that kind of raise.” Steps are done on a yearly system.
Walsh said changes for the value of the step were split in half, with the first half taking effect on Sept. 15 2013 and the other 50 percent on March 15.
All increases will be retroactive through the start of the school year.
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The contract also addressed the high school day, which switched this year to 8 flex-periods from block scheduling of four classes. The OEA had originally asked for the requirements of a high school teacher’s day to remain as they were this year, with five instructional periods, one prep period, one supervision period and one duty-free lunch period.
Teachers will now have student contact for six classes a day, with five graded periods and one non-graded period, which will focus more on student specific needs, said Medernach.
“Everyone is happy we have an agreement, which is wonderful,” said Walsh. “We can now focus on other things, like curriculum, bringing up test scores.”
The teachers had been working without a contract since June 30 2012. Negotiations began last January and finished in January this year.
Walsh said the board and administration is aware of the cost implications over the next few years due to the contract.
“We will build it into our budget,” Walsh said. Although state and federal funding are always changing, Walsh said they were confident that they would be able to fund the additional costs.
“We’re looking now to, as Dr. Wendt says, make us a world class school community,” said Medernach.