Hannaford Career Center teachers ink new two-year pact

MIDDLEBURY — Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center (PHCC) officials on Monday confirmed a new, two-year deal with the school’s 19 full- and part-time teachers that includes annual raises and a requirement that educators pay a greater proportion of their health insurance.
The current base pay for a starting teacher at the PHCC is $42,256, according to Jason Larocque, chairman of the career center board. The new contract guarantees a 1.5 percent increase in that base pay in year one, and a 1.25-percent rise in year two of the pact.
Larocque stressed teachers will also be entitled to grade and step increases for longevity, so the more senior educators will see pay raises in excess of the contracted bumps in base pay.
The pact calls for PHCC educators to pay 20 percent of the costs of their health insurance, offered through the Vermont Education Health Initiative. The district will pay 80 percent of the equivalent of a “Gold Plan” through VEHI, according to Larocque. The district is setting up Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) accounts for teachers to help them pay down the higher insurance deductible they will be assuming.
Prior to this new contract, PHCC teachers were paying 14.5 percent of their health insurance costs. The bump to 20 percent was driven by the state Legislature’s mandate this year of an 80-20 split in premium contributions by school boards and teachers, respectively.
“I think this is a good contract,” Larocque said during a phone interview on Monday.
Aaron Townsend is a forestry and natural resources instructor at the PHCC who served as lead negotiator for the teachers. He, too, believes the new contract is fair.
“The teachers feel respected and appreciated, and are pleased with the contract,” Townsend said on Tuesday.
Career Center teachers negotiated as a subset of the Middlebury Educators’ Association, which also represents the interests of Addison Central School District teachers.
The career center provides technical and vocational education to students from the 17 Addison County communities that feed Mount Abraham, Middlebury and Vergennes union high schools.
It was last fall that the PHCC board and teachers began negotiating the new contract. The previous, three-year deal expired July 1.
Career Center Superintendent Dana Peterson said he was pleased to see the two sides come to terms.
“The timing was helpful, as it allows us to enter another budget cycle with important information in place for salaries and benefits,” he said. “It also makes it easier to provide concrete information to VEHI for the upcoming open enrollment period for the health care conversion the will take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. I would also like to commend everyone who dedicated time and energy to help advance the process.”
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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