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Dowagiac schools ratifies labor contracts

Published 9:00pm Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dowagiac Board of Education ratified its two labor contracts 5-0 at City Hall Wednesday morning which provide no pay increases, but lock in insurance costs for two years.

The agreements reached with teachers (Dowagiac Education Association) and bus drivers and custodians (DUESPA) do, however, offer union members financial incentives if enrollments rebound.

Supt. Dr. Mark Daniel said the district in August will be rolling out an enrollment campaign.

For 2013-14, the school board agrees to provide towards the cost of all insurance plan costs, premiums, funded deductibles and Pak B an amount equal to $1.54 million based on 125 fulltime equivalents at $12,320 each per year into the DEA escrow account in monthly amounts: July-December, $128,000 a month, or $768,000; January-June, $88,000 a month, or $528,000; plus, $244,000 for deductible, payable on a mutually-agreed-to plan.

Teacher per payroll deduction for those electing ABC plan as of Jan. 1 shall be (subject to change by DEA based on actual premiums): single, $130 for 24 pays; double, $234 for 24 pays; and full family, $260 for 24 pays.

Teachers electing the Choices II plan as of Jan. 1 will pay the full increase in premiums over the ABC plan.

Teachers who elect no medical insurance coverage (Pak B) will be paid a monthly amount equal to $445 minus the cost of vision and dental insurance.

In the event additional teachers are hired the per-FTE amount will be paid for each additional teacher into the DEA escrow account.

The duration of the agreement will be for one year until midnight June 30, 2014.

For 2014-15, the board provides $1.42 million towards insurance costs.

“They were very aware of our deficit spending,” Daniel said. “We have tied in some stipends in regard to enrollment retention and increases. The primary area where we’re having cost savings would be in the insurance package, with a set amount the board agrees to pay going from $1.54 million down to $1.42 million. That’s important because it locks our insurance in for two years. Teachers have adjusted their coverage to allow this to happen. It’s very much a give-and-take scenario that is good for our district and, ultimately, good for our students. I’m very pleased with where we ended. We worked Monday afternoon to finalize contract language.

“Overall, regarding the teacher package, I can’t thank (DEA President) Keith Klann and his team enough, but I also want to thank our team,” which consists of himself, Deputy Supt. Dawn Conner, Finance Director Dawn Copley, Human Resources Director Jennifer Daly-Thies and board President Michelle Helmuth-Charles.

“And I have to thank Roy Freeman for his leadership working with his team,” Daniel said.

Steps will be granted for 2013-14. However, only half of the increase will be paid by beginning payments with the 14th pay period for 26-pay employees or the 11th pay period for 21-pay employees.

Each teacher shall be paid a one-time stipend by Dec. 31 an amount equal to $20 per pupil over the projected 2,261 student enrollment based on the fall 2013 student count, up to a maximum of 30 additional students.

The DUESPA contract in 2013-2014 calls for the district to pay $5,692.50 for single coverage, $11,385 for double coverage and $15,525 for family coverage, with each member receiving $5 for each student enrolled over the projected amount of 2,261 up to 30 students. This one-time stipend would be paid to each member by the first payday in December.

For 2014-15, DUESPA would receive the state increase (if there is one) with maximum amounts of $5,835 annually for singles, $11,670 for doubles and $15,913 for full family. Pak members get theirs paid in full, plus a $50 cash option once a month as part of the two-year contract.

Salary reopens for the 2014-15 school year only.

“We haven’t increased teacher salaries in I don’t know when,” Daniel said. “Nine percent of school districts are in financial distress, which equates to over 60. The board is very aware that although we made substantial cuts this year, we’re going to have to continue next year or get it on the revenue side, which means retaining students. I’ve heard it takes the economy three to five years once the state starts to recover; it takes us seven to nine years to see the impact of that. We’re living year to year.”


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