Addison Northwest teachers ink new two-year contract

VERGENNES — The Addison Northwest Teachers’ Association (ANTA) and the Addison Northwest School District (ANWSD) board have both ratified a new, two-year contract for the district’s approximately 100 teachers that guarantees them annual raises and requires them to pay a greater share of their health insurance premiums.
The deal, one year in the making, provides teachers with a 3.5-percent increase to the base salary in year one (2017-2018), and a 3.25-percent hike in new salary money in the second year (2018-2019) of the agreement, according to Mark Koenig, a lead ANWSD board negotiator.
A portion of these raises compensates teachers for their increased share of health insurance premiums, that resulted from the Vermont Legislature’s new mandate of an 80/20 cost share between each district and its teachers. The board will also provide teachers with Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) accounts to help offset the financial impact of their higher health care deductibles, Koenig noted.
Negotiators finalized the deal during a final, 12-hour bargaining session that ended in the wee hours of Sept. 1. The ANWSD board unanimously ratified the proposed agreement this past Monday, Sept. 11, after the teachers had endorsed the pact four days earlier by a 57-2 tally.
The new contract covers educators at Vergennes Union High School, Vergennes Union Elementary School, and Addison and Ferrisburgh central schools.
“No one got everything they wanted,” Koenig said of the outcome of the negotiations, aided in recent months by a mediator.
“It was a learning process for everyone,” he added, noting both sides had to adapt this past spring to the Legislature’s mandated cost-share on health insurance.
Susan Oliveira, a guidance counselor at VUHS, was part of ANTA’s negotiating team. She specifically alluded to the health care portion of the contract in an emailed response to the Addison Independent’s request for comment.
“We are happy that after all we were able to come to an agreement with the ANWSD board negotiators and their attorney through mediation,” she wrote. “With the changes in health care, some of which were imposed through our government, this has been a particularly difficult year for teachers as evidenced throughout the state. We are glad to have a contract and be in our classrooms.”
Other elements of the deal will result in:
•  The length of school day remaining unchanged at 7 hours and 15 minutes, though Koenig said teachers will be allowed more flexible work schedules to tend to their varied responsibilities. For example, the advent of personal learning plans under Vermont’s Act 77 means that some students will need to be counseled outside of the traditional school day, Koenig noted.
•  A budget of $150,000 for professional development for teachers in year one of the contract, followed by $175,000 in year two. Teachers who take advantage of these professional development resources will be limited to six credit hours each year based on University of Vermont course rates.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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