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Sides agree on issues

7/18/2012

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Negotiators representing the Hays USD 489 Board of Education and administrators on one side and Hays-NEA bargaining unit on the other reached a tentative agreement at Tuesday's negotiating session.

"We do have a tentative agreement that will have to be ratified by the Hays-NEA and also approved by the full board," said Will Roth, USD 489 superintendent.

Negotiators came to agreement on the three issues remaining -- the Hays Middle School schedule, the early retirement health insurance premium and salary.

After much discussion, they reached a tentative agreement on a salary increase.

The salary increase will be "approximately $1,200 per teacher plus horizontal movement for college credit hours and professional development," said Kim Schneweis co-chairwoman of the H-NEA bargaining unit.

"We want it to be in the salary schedule," Roth said of the $1,200 raise.

"We'll try to get it to $1,200 per cell," Schneweis said.

Total cost of the raises to the district would be $406,000 including the horizontal movement. In addition to that, the district will continue to pay 100 percent of each employee's health insurance, which will include a 2.6 percent increase.

Negotiators also reached an agreement on phasing out retirees' health insurance benefits.

Currently, the district pays insurance premiums for early retirees until the retiree is eligible for Medicare for anyone who retires under KPERS provisions and has worked for the district full-time for 10 years.

The tentative agreement changes some of the requirements for receiving the benefit such as limiting the payout to 10 years and extends the years of employment for eligibility to 15 consecutive years.

The changes won't affect those already receiving benefits, Roth said.

The district will start a 403(b), a retirement savings plan designed for public schools and other tax-exempt organizations, with a negotiated match to employee amounts in the 2013-14 school year.

When there is a 2-percent match from the district, the years a retiree might receive the health insurance benefit will begin to decrease until it has been eliminated 10 years after it starts.

Once the match has begun, staff will have a two-year window to choose between the current insurance program and the 403(b).

The HMS schedule contract language will maintain the modified block but won't specify minutes in each classroom, according to the tentative agreement.

With the class time minutes in the contract, every time there's a change for assemblies and other special occasions, "all those things essentially will violate the contract," Roth said at an earlier meeting.

Any decisions by the negotiating teams must be ratified by the Hays-NEA membership and approved by the board of education before taking effect.

"We're going to try to have a vote next week," Schneweis said of the H-NEA membership.

If they ratify the agreement, the board will discuss it at the Aug. 1 work session, Roth said.