Avon Grove School Board approves new contract with teachers
● By Steven Hoffman
The Avon Grove School Board approved a new, five-year collective bargaining agreement with the Avon Grove Education Association at a meeting on Dec. 15.
The new teachers' contract, which is effective July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2022, was approved by the school board by a vote of 8-0. The current collective bargaining agreement will expire on June 30, 2017.
School board president Bonnie Wolff thanked the Avon Grove Education Association for working with the district on the “early bird” contract. Wolff said that she thought the negotiations were very collegial between the two sides.
“The board is very excited to enter into a long-term agreement with the teachers’ association,” Wolff said. “This agreement is beneficial for the district, the board, the Avon Grove community and the Association’s teachers. The board has achieved several goals in this contract, and this will allow the board and administration to plan financially for the next five years in an effort to achieve our long-term organizational objectives.”
The current contact between the school district and its teachers was approved in December of 2014, nearly six months after the previous contact had expired. School officials talked positively about having a more long-term contract in place.
In a press release issued by the school district, the teachers' contact was described as “a regionally competitive compensation and benefits plan with annual cost increases well below the five-year average base Act 1 Index.”
The contract includes the introduction of a high-deductible health plan as the sole medical and prescription plan option. This plan replaces the current three-tiered health care plan options available under the existing agreement. The high-deductible plan design is projected to bring long-term savings to the district.
Additionally, the highest teacher salary, Step 15 with a Masters plus 60 credits, will not increase in the last four years of the agreement.
The annual tuition reimbursement cap was not increased, and teachers will continue to have the ability to move one column each year for educational attainment.
Superintendent Dr. M. Christopher Marchese thanked the school board members and the leadership team of the Avon Grove Education Association for the efforts to finalize an “early bird” contract that is beneficial to the various stakeholders in the district.
“It is very affirming to see the commitment that both sides brought to creating a contract that will benefit our students, our employees, and our district,” Marchese said. “I am grateful to all who participated for their dedication to Avon Grove.”