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Medical benefits rise for teachers
Aug 25, 2004 12:00 am
Minus changes reflecting an increase in the cost of medical benefits, the proposed 2004-05 teacher contract to be considered by the Wilson County Board of Education next week is similar to last year's agreement, local officials said Monday.
"We changed our benefit structure to more reflect the rising health care costs … We changed our deductibles on some things, and we changed our drug program a little bit," Wilson County Director of Schools Dr. Jim Duncan said of the proposed contract.
A pair of negotiating teams representing the county school system and the Wilson County Education Association have already agreed on the changes, which includes adding a teacher dress code. Now, Duncan noted, the document must be "ratified" by the Wilson County Board of Education.
District 18 Wilson County Commissioner Adam Bannach, a third-grade teacher at Lakeview Elementary School and WCEA president, said he felt the six-month-long negotiating process went "fairly well."
"Unfortunately, insurance is going up … the negotiating team has been able to work with (school system officials) and keep the cost down, but unfortunately, this year there's a little bit of a cost increase on dependent coverage and some changes on the prescription benefits," Bannach said.
And though the teacher dress code was already in existence as a school board policy, Bannach added he was "glad to see" the guidelines included as a part of the new teacher contract.
"It will clarify some issues, and principals will have some discretion in that for teachers going on field trips and things like that," he said. " … Now, (the dress code) is something that we've both agreed upon. So, the teachers were able to be a part of the process."
Duncan added the proposed contract reflects the State of Tennessee's new salary schedule for educators as well as a 2-percent state-funded pay increase.
"I think we have a contract that's fair to both sides," he commented. "Certainly, a big regret is not being able to give more money in salary increases."
The current contract under which county educators work was agreed on in 2003 and will expire in 2006. Each year, negotiators with both sides discuss some articles in the existing contract and whether or not they should be altered.
The next major contract negotiation, during which every article will be reviewed, will come in two years, Duncan said.
School board members will consider the proposed contract at their Thursday, Sept. 2 meeting.
Staff Writer Brian Harville can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.