The Grandview school board Aug. 21 approved a new two-year contract with the Grandview Heights Educational Support Staff Association, the union representing the district's classified staff.

The Grandview school board Aug. 21 approved a new two-year contract with the Grandview Heights Educational Support Staff Association, the union representing the district's classified staff.

There will be a freeze in base pay for the 2012-13 school year and union members will receive a 2 percent increase in the second year of the contract, which also has been ratified by the union.

The agreement includes an increase in employee contributions to premiums for traditional medical insurance, Superintendent Ed O'Reilly said.

Employees who elect to use the traditional medical insurance plan will have their premium contributions increase by 10 percent.

"In addition, the GHESSA agreed to terms that will help lower total health-care costs over the life of the contract," O'Reilly said in a statement he read at the board meeting.

An option to select a consumer-driven plan is also available. It has premiums that are "significantly lower than those of the traditional plan," O'Reilly told ThisWeek.

"There is a financial incentive for (employees) to move to the consumer-driven plan," he said, but even with the incentives, "there is a significant savings to the school district on our portion of the premiums versus premiums for the traditional plan."

At the board meeting, O'Reilly expressed gratitude to the association's membership "for understanding the financial constraints that the economy has placed on all public institutions and for their considerations of the operational needs of the school district."

The support staff has again "shown a commitment to our students and to our community," he said.

Contract negotiations are never easy and the insurance issue made these contract talks "exceptionally difficult," O'Reilly said.

The district's health-insurance premiums have risen 49 percent over the past two years, he said.

O'Reilly praised the leadership of the support staff association for being willing to go back to the membership and frankly discuss the insurance issues facing the district.

Association President Jean Adkins also expressed her appreciation for the union membership's ratification of the contract and keeping the challenges facing the district and taxpayers in mind.

Also at last week's meeting, the board heard a report from a committee of residents that has been meeting to discuss how the district can improve its recycling efforts at its school buildings.

The committee will conduct an audit of each school to see what is being done now and what recycling programs could be standardized across the district, which will lead to a set of recommendations, said committee co-chairman Jerry Bower.

The committee plans to report back to the board, most likely in October, on the results of its audit, he said.

The board voted to designate the recycling committee as an ad-hoc committee that will provide regular updates at board meetings.

In other action, the board approved five dates that would be used as makeup days if the district or a school exceeds the state allotment of five calamity days during the 2012-13 school year.

The makeup dates, each falling on a Saturday, would be Feb. 23, March 16 and 23, and April 13 and 20.