NA-FC board approves teacher contract PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 22 November 2017 10:55

By Josh Suiter
Special Correspondent

The New Albany Floyd County School Corporation Board approved a new contract for its teachers during their November 13 meeting despite two board members expressing concern with a section devoted to the New Albany Floyd County Education Association president getting paid by the corporation.

Bill Briscoe, Assistant to the Superintendent for Administration and Operations, said the corporation is “excited and very pleased with this agreement. I want to take one more time to thank Joy (Lohmeyer) and her team (of the New Albany Floyd County Education Association) and the admin team for your countless hours and all that you did through this process.”

“This takes a of lot patience and good listening skills. I can tell you that you would be happy with the team that represents you,” he added.

Briscoe said attracting teachers is a challenge “because there are not as many going into education. We have a high starting salary, thanks to the board and contract negotiations for that. This year, the starting starting salary is $40,100 and the second year $40,200.”

Briscoe said over two years teachers will receive a 5.5-7.5% raise over what they were getting previously. He said all will see a 3.21% increase.

The contract is a 2 year-agreement with insurance benefits including a vision program that gives $39 per employee.

Briscoe said other highlights of the contract include:

Increased adoption leave to allowing a teacher to use up to 20 accumulated sick days for adoption within the year of the adoptive placement.

Improved severance benefit. According to the contract teachers shall vest the 401(a) severance benefit upon the attainment of 5 or more years of participation in the plan. The teacher must submit a letter to the Superintendent’s office by April 1 stating that the teacher is retiring effective the end of the school year.

Improved salaries of head coaching staff members and fine arts teachers.

Briscoe said 98% of teachers voted in favor of the contract and that the contract “keeps us in good place financially.” He said the administration strongly recommended approval.

Board member Elizabeth Galligan made a motion to accept the contract and Board member Lee Cotner seconded it.

During the public comment period, New Albany Floyd County Education Association President Joy Lohmeyer said “We appreciate the professionalism that we always have in terms of discussion. We talk about a lot of difficult topics and administration and Mr. Briscoe and Dr. Snyder are extremely professional and we appreciate that.”

“We did have a ratification vote. We had 90% of our member teachers who voted and by the way, there are 692 teachers…520 of those are members and we had 472 teachers who voted,” she said.

“We had 460 people vote yes and 12 people vote no. So, it is an endorsement and we believe it is a good and fair contract moving forward.”

Then Board Member Lee Ann Wiseheart said “I am extremely happy for the sections that benefit our teachers. We truly have some of the best in the profession and I honestly wish we could give them more. This recommendation also includes a section that in my opinion does not benefit our teachers. Legal counsel has apprised me that this recommendation is all or none recommendation and cannot be divided into separate votes. With that being said, I cannot in good conscience, good faith, ethically or morally support Article 4 B3. This clause continues to spend taxpayers money to pay for duties that are not New Albany Floyd County corporation duties. My vote is a reflection of my personal conviction.”

According to the contract, Article 4, Section B3 says: “The president of the association should be paid a  stipend of $15,000 in lieu of halftime paid leave to facilitate communication between the corporation and the association.”

Board President Becky Gardenour said “I am going to vote for the teacher’s contract. I think it is a great contract. I am remember it was about two years ago and I was asking that the starting salary be up to $40,000 so we are competitive with Indianapolis. Their starting pay, I believe, is $42,000. We are in a good situation with surrounding counties.”

But added, “I agree that giving the teacher’s union president $15,000 for holding that position and my personal opinion is that is something the union should be paying their president. I don’t think it should be taxpayers money. I will vote for this but this is something that concerns me and always will.”

“I am thrilled that you are being recognized in this way with this contract….I hold you all (teachers) in high regard,” said Board member Jan Anderson.

Cotner said the $15,000 is a stipend and it was negotiated years ago. “The history of that is that you are taking an outstanding teacher like Joy Lohmeyer out of classroom for a half a day but instead she is doing a full day plus this. This is money well spent.”

Galligan said “First of all, I can’t believe 97% of anybody agrees on anything nowadays.  I think that is a reflection of the administration team and the teachers team….I want to thank everyone. I know this is a hard earned stipend.”

Board member Jenny Higbie complimented the inclusion of a dual credit provision added to the contract. “This is a provision where you can receive money back for the credits you earn from the university. That $400 per credit hour is fantastic….It is nice to have the monetary back up as well. I love teachers!”

In the end, the board passed the contract by a vote of 6-1. Wiseheart voted against it.

Dr. Brad Snyder said teachers would receive a retroactive paycheck on Dec. 15. He also said he would be bringing a Support Staff contract to the next board meeting on Nov. 27.