A full year before the current contract with the teachers’ union expires, the Armstrong School District Board of School Directors voted Monday to approve a new contract starting in July 2014.
That is in contrast to the previous two contracts, both of which were ratified almost a year after the one before had expired.
The contract covers two years, starting in June 2014 and continuing through June 2016. It holds the line on salaries for the first year, and includes a 1 percent increase for the second year.
It also changes the health care plan for school district faculty, moving from the Highmark PPO plan to the Highmark Qualified High Deductible Plan for a savings of $3 million for the district over the life of the contract.
“The alteration of health care plans reflects the commitment of the professional staff to work cooperatively with the district to reduce costs in benefits that have continued to rise throughout the years,” Superintendent Dr. Stan Chapp said in a press release.
“The district appreciates the cooperation shown by the AEA to assist our school community. ... Efforts such as these shown by the AEA will allow the district to continue to build fiscal stability over the coming years.”
Teachers may change to the new health plan this year on a voluntary basis, and everyone will be switched next year, when the new contract takes effect.
Both of the previous two contracts came after extended negotiations and both included more significant salary increases. The current contract came after 16 months of bargaining that narrowly avoided a strike, and included slightly more than a 4 percent annual salary increase as well as increased co-pay premiums, for a net increase of around 3.3 percent.
The one before was also ratified nearly a year after it was due, and also included a 3.25 percent salary increase.