The Colonial School Board and the representatives of the teachers, the Colonial Education Association (CEA), have reached a tentative agreement to extend the teachers’ contract through 2021. The current three-year deal is set to expire in August 2017, when the new four-year pact will begin.
“I am pleased that the Board and CEA were able to come to such a quick and amicable agreement on this new contract,” said School Board President Susan Moore. “I can’t remember having been involved in a more collegial or productive negotiating process. The fact that we came to such a swift and mutually beneficial settlement speaks to the respectful and professional rapport that exists within our District.”
CEA President Robert Slagle was also pleased with the manner in which the agreement was reached.
“The discussions were tremendous,” Mr. Slagle said. “There was an open and respectful discourse and exchange of ideas throughout this process, and everyone remained engaged. I think this shows the commitment of our teachers and represents a shared vision with the School Board to ensure the sustained success of our District.”
Highlights of the new agreement include 2.0% annual salary increases over scale for the first three years and a 2.4% increase in year four. Teachers will also contribute 1.0% more towards healthcare costs per year for three years with the final year remaining constant. Additionally, longevity teacher sick leave was capped at 16 days per year, down from 20, unless approved for family or medical leave.
Mr. Slagle noted the agreement’s continued commitment to extra-curricular activities and a renewed commitment to class sizes, especially at the elementary level. Included are 2.0% annual increases to professional compensation for extra-curricular positions. The desired class size range for K-3 classes is set at 20-24 students with a maximum of 26. Class sizes in grades 4-5 will be 21-25 students. In addition, Elementary teachers will have 45 minutes of collaboration time a minimum of three times per month to align with Professional Learning Time protocols established by the administration.
The fact that the agreement was completed nine months ahead of schedule speaks to the Board and CEA’s commitment to the District’s students.
“No one ever said ‘this has to get done now’,” Mr. Slagle said. “But because we maintain informal open dialog throughout the year, and both sides have a realistic view of our current economic situation, the timing was right. It’s always important to keep the lines of communication open.”
“This was simply the case of two sides working on the same page with the students’ best interest at heart,” Mrs. Moore added. The teachers’ union ratified the agreement at a meeting on November 15th. The School Board is set to formally approve the pact at a special meeting on December 1st.