ACSU teachers sign contract that creates salary parity at all grade levels

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison Central Supervisory Union board and the three unions representing district teachers have signed off on a new, three-year agreement that affords educators average annual salary increases of around 3.6 percent and requires them to pay 15 percent of their health care premiums by the third year of the pact.

The agreement also achieves the ACSU’s longstanding goal of creating financial parity among its elementary school and secondary school educators. With that in mind, the new contract provides for larger average salary increases to various educators in the rural elementary schools in order to put them on par with their colleagues at Middlebury Union middle and high schools. By the end of the three-year agreement, all union teachers in ACSU will receive the same salary for equal experience and education.

“This agreement lays the bedrock for significant work ahead that will benefit the students of Addison Central Supervisory Union,” said ACSU Superintendent Peter Burrows. “Tackling the issue of salary equity will enable us to work together as the strongest possible team of educators to inspire all students to success.”

The contract covers approximately 200 employees — including teachers, nurses, guidance counselors, and other professional staff — who are affiliated with three unions: The Middlebury Educators’ Association, Middlebury Elementary Teachers’ Association (META), and Addison Central Education Association.

Speaking for all three ACSU teacher associations, Cornwall first-grade teacher Lisa Beck said she and her colleagues are pleased with the agreement.

“We felt that we made great strides in working together to find common ground and reach a settlement that is fair and equitable,” she said in a written statement. “This contract solves the longstanding issue of disparity in pay between elementary and middle/high school teachers. Moving forward, this settlement will enable us to strengthen our schools and better serve our students.”

The three-year contract takes effect July 1 and covers the 2014-2015, ’15-’16, and ’16-’17 academic years. It specifically provides for salary increases of 3.6, 3.6, and 3.75 percent in those years, respectively. Burrows said the transition in salaries is not expected to result in any shortfalls to the school budgets approved this past Town Meeting Day.

The teachers’ associations agreed to increase their proportion of health insurance coverage by 0.5 percent per year for each year of the contract, to the maximum percentage allowable under current contract terms, which is 15 percent. ACSU teachers currently pay 13.5 percent of their premiums. They receive health insurance through the Vermont Education Health Initiative (VEHI).

Mark Perrin, chairman and lead negotiator of the ACSU board, was pleased with the manner in which talks were conducted.

“I think the process went really well,” he said. “This contract is the culmination of great teamwork between the teachers, administrators and nine different boards. This is an example of our communities coming together in spirit and unity to create equity for a strong educational environment for our young learners.”

Alyce Schermerhorn, an art teacher at Mary Hogan Elementary School and chief negotiator for META, said all three teachers’ unions worked as a team to help get the job done.

“The ratification of this agreement begins a new chapter for ACSU,” she said. “All parties shared a vision of what was needed to move our district forward.”

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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Addison County Independent

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