Union, board announce tentative settlement

The Champlain Valley Union School District and the Chittenden South Education Association (CSEA) announced last Thursday they have reached a tentative agreement on teacher contracts for 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. A vote on the proposals could come as early as next week, according to the chief negotiator for the CSEA.

Both parties still need to ratify the contract for it to become effective. Mark McDermott, director of human resources: personnel, policy and legal services for the district, declined to speak about the tentative agreement.

“The administration and the board will refrain from commenting on this until both sides have ratified the contract,” McDermott wrote in an email. He provided no timeline for when the vote is scheduled to take place, but Lisa Bisbee, chief negotiator for the CESA, said the union is hoping for a June 14 vote.

The announcement was made public in a June 1 press release. According to the document, the new contract maintains current working conditions and benefits. Changes were made to the existing contract to reflect the fact that, as of July 1, the former school districts of the Chittenden South Supervisory Union will consolidate into the new Champlain Valley School District (CVSD).

Raises for teachers will be based on experience and level of education. The average of these increases will total approximately 3 percent per year. Teachers will also increase their contributions to health insurance premiums to 16 percent, with additional contributions from both the CVSD and teachers to a new health care plan, which will save both individual teachers and the CVSD money on health care costs.

“I am pleased that we were able to find agreement,” Bisbee said via email. “This agreement is the result of hours of work on both sides in order to understand the new high-deductible health plans. We have been working with VEHI for the past two years to fully understand the implications for the CVSD teachers. I think we have found a middle ground with shared cost savings for us and for the district’s other taxpayers. The agreement will cover roughly 400 teachers. It is a two-year year deal. It will expire on June 30, 2019.”

Bisbee noted that the three percent increase covers step movement if the teacher is eligible. Step movement alone accounts for 1.67 percent of the new funds. Most experienced teachers who are not eligible for step movement will only see a 1.33 percent increase, according to Bisbee.

“I think the agreement is a good compromise. Neither one of us got everything we wanted, but ultimately we found a place where we both felt the agreement reflected the needs of the students, taxpayers and teachers of CVSD,” Bisbee wrote in an email. “This is how negotiations are supposed to work: give and take at the local level between a locally elected school board and its local educators.”

Bisbee also praised her co-workers during the negotiation process. “I am extremely proud of my CSEA team, they worked incredibly hard and represented diverse interests in a professional, knowledgeable and ultimately compelling manner,” she wrote. “I have tremendous respect for the board team and I think together we were pleased with the tenor and collaborative model of our negotiation process.”

In addition, the two parties agreed to create two committees. Those committees will explore issues related to safety and salary.

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