The New Albany-Plain Local school board on June 22 approved the teachers contract proposed by the Plain Local Education Association.

The New Albany-Plain Local school board on June 22 approved the teachers contract proposed by the Plain Local Education Association.

Board member Natalie Matt was absent, but she sent in a letter of support that was read into the record. The other four board members voted in favor of the contract.

The contract reduces the increase on teachers' base salaries from 3 percent to 1 percent for the next three years.

It also decreases step increases by nearly half. Step increases are given to teachers based on seniority and education. The step increases are decreasing by 20 percent in the contract's first year, 40 percent in the second year and 60 percent in the third year.

Superintendent April Domine said step increases would be cut almost in half: the average step increases ranged from 4 percent and 5.4 percent and are being reduced to range from 2 percent to 3.4 percent.

Teachers also agreed to change the percentage they pay for health-care coverage, agreeing to pay 15 percent of their health-care costs for single coverage. Currently, teachers pay 10 percent on single coverage. The contract also increases employee co-pays, deductibles for family coverage and out-of-pocket expenses. Healthcare increases will be kept to a minimum of 9 percent annually through negotiations with the union.

No other provisions in the contract were negotiated, only salaries and benefits, said Jeff Warner, the district's communications director.

The three-year contract takes effect June 30. The previous contract would have expired in June 2012.

For more on this story, see the June 30 edition of ThisWeek New Albany or check back to ThisWeekNews.com for updates.