August 12, 2011

Bath schools and teachers agree on revised contracts

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By Nick McWherter
Bath-DeWitt Connection staff writer

Bath Public schools and its teachers union have ratified a new contract in order to save the school district $132,000. The schools insurance plan was a key aspect in the negotiations.

The teachers bargaining unit team and school officials met on four separate occasions before coming to terms on a new two-year contract at a June sit-down meeting, according to school officials.

“Our talks went really well, I mean we’ve got a great staff and a great negotiating team here,” Superintendent Jake Huffman said. “So they understand it makes sense with the budget this year that was passed along by Governor Snyder this spring.”

The savings to the district is a direct correlation to the teacher’s agreeing to switch insurance policies. Beginning in the fall Bath teachers will be insured by McLaren Health plan.

“They were willing to make concessions on the insurance end and it will create a pretty significant saving for the district,” Huffman said.

The new insurance policy constitutes an 80/20 cost split shared between the district and its teachers, with the district being responsible for 80 percent, according to school officials.

“What it will do is help the district balance its budget,” Huffman said. “We were projected a $350,000 deficit that would be taken out of our fund equity, so this will push us that much closer to having a balanced budget.”

Attempts to contact Dan Anibal, instructor and Bath Education Association president went unanswered.

In order to offset the additional cost that will be incurred by teachers, the top tier and longest tenured teachers will receive an additional 1.4 percent salary increase. This is meant to help offset additional cost that will be incurred because of the switch, according to Superintendent Jake Huffman. Currently 18 teachers will receive the additional increase.

“They are definitely sensitive to the current issues that are going on around the state,” Huffman said at the July 25 school board meeting. “They are willing to do their part to make sure that we stay viable as a district.”