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Chester County Press

Avon Grove finalizes new teachers’ pact

12/23/2014 03:35PM ● By Steven Hoffman

The Avon Grove School Board and the Avon Grove Education Association have reached an agreement on a three-year contract for teachers. The teachers’ union ratified the agreement on Dec. 9 and the school board approved the contract at a special meeting on Dec. 16.

The new contract is retroactive to July 1, 2014, the date the previous deal expired, and extends to June 30, 2017.

“We believe the agreement is fair, competitive, sustainable, and economically sound,” said school board president Brian Gaerity in a statement. “We feel this package reflects the value and regard the board and the Avon Grove community have for our teaching staff. It is our hope the agreement will help us attract and retain excellent teachers, as well as maintain and grow Avon Grove’s quality educational programs.”

Teachers will receive overall salary increases of 2.7 percent during the length of the contract. There will be a 1.9 percent salary increase in the first year of the agreement.

There will be no step movement for professional staff in the first two years of the contract and no increase in supplemental pay for coaches or sponsors of extracurricular activities.

Healthcare plan changes are effective during the first year of the contract. A buy-up, core, and base plan have been established as part of the new agreement. Employee contributions rates are increasing and are realized in both core and buy-up plans. Affordable Healthcare Act language has been included in the agreement that protects the school district from the consequences of the Cadillac Tax for unusually expensive healthcare plans.

The deal also includes a provision that caps tuition reimbursements at $200,000 each year for the life of the contract. Additionally, reimbursement for post-master’s level coursework must conclue with a Pennsylvania certification or an advanced degree or meet other district-level criteria. Employees must reimburse the district for tuition expense if the employee vacates his or her position within one year of the course completion.

A master’s degree equivalency certificate will no longer be recognized as a master’s degree, and any new hires will not be able to get column increases in salary at the master’s level or higher without earning a master’s degree.

Avon Grove officials have stated a goal of improving academic achievement by students so that it will be ranked among the best districts in the state. To that end, the district has developed a strategic plan aimed at boosting academic achievement, and funding has also been provided for initiatives that will improve classroom learning. According to Gaerity, the new teachers’ contract strengthens the partnership with teachers who are vital to the school community and the students’ success.

“We are fortunate in Avon Grove to have outstanding students supported by excellent teachers, administrators, support staff and involved parents and community members,” he said. “We look forward to strengthening our foundation and creating the school district’s future together.”