Well, it was a long hard-fought contract negotiation, but now it’s done. It’s time to take a look at the contract and see the result of what we argued about for six months. Let’s get right to it.
As many of you may know, most teacher salary schedules are broken down into lanes and steps. The DEA schedule has 6 lanes corresponding to various levels of education, from Bachelors all the way up to Masters plus 18 credit hours. There are also steps, which roughly correspond to the number of years of teaching in the district. For 2011-2012, the teachers did not advance to the next step. Instead, they got a one-time $2,000 payment. For the next two years, the salary schedule stays exactly the same, meaning a teacher advances one step per year. The increase between the steps is 3.75% for steps 1-4 and 4% for steps 5-6. For the 2014-2015 school year, the entire schedule increases by 1%.
For the first two years, the co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums were frozen to the 2010-2011 level. For the last two years they increase. I believe this is essentially the Board’s proposal. However, the teachers got a reduction in their portion of the PPO family premium, from 40% to 35%, for the last three years of the contract. This was sorely needed as teachers with families were paying more than their fair share in premiums.
The evaluation process is the same as before for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years. A joint administration-teacher committee will work until next July to develop a new evaluation. Another item of note is that administration must notify teachers of any unsatisfactory performance in writing and not just verbally. This is good news for people who complain that it’s difficult to terminate tenured
teachers. Written documentation is required and this will ensure the proper process is followed.
The major change here is the addition of a Joint Committee which includes six administrators, six teachers, and a minimum of two parents. The parents are chosen jointly by the Superintendent and the DEA President. The important piece here is that they will report their findings to the Superintendent AND the Board of Education. This should help to eliminate the situation we found ourselves in recently when the Board was unaware of the deterioration of special ed services. In addition, special ed caseloads will be in terms of minutes and not periods, and teachers will be allowed to sign the IEP minutes document.
So, all in all, it seems like a reasonable contract. The key now is to operate out in the open. Parents should remain vigilant and not wait for issues to fester before alerting the Board. If your issues are not being addressed, you now have options. There is the Parent Advocates for Education. There is the new Joint Special Ed Committee. And you should always feel comfortable sharing your issues with the board members. Their job is to ensure the best education for all students. It’s going to take all of us to turn this situation around, but based on the great people I’ve met over the last few months, I’m sure we can get it done.