Olentangy teachers would forgo step raises next year and contribute more toward their health-insurance costs under a tentative agreement approved by the teachers union last week.

Olentangy teachers would forgo step raises next year and contribute more toward their health-insurance costs under a tentative agreement approved by the teachers union last week.

They also would be granted the right to add same-sex domestic partners under provisions for family health-care coverage.

The Olentangy Teachers Association announced May 17 that an agreement was approved for new three-year contracts.

The current contracts expire June 30.

The new terms, if approved, would save the district about $13.3 million, according to a press release from the district.

The school board is expected to vote on the agreement during its next meeting, set for 6 p.m. Thursday, May 24, in the auditorium at Olentangy High School, 675 Lewis Center Road.

If approved, the new contracts would take effect July 1 and expire at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

"This contract clearly demonstrates that we are committed to this partnership, as well as continuing to focus on the learners that we serve," association president Elaine Eddy said in a news release.

Eliminating step raises for the 2012-13 school year would save the district about $2.3 million by the end of the three-year period, according to district communications director Karen Truett.

Step raises are awarded in addition to base-salary increases based on length of employment.

Eligible teachers would resume receiving 3 percent to 4 percent step increases in the 2013-14 school year, but they would not recoup the missed step, saving the district about $2.3 million over three years, Truett said.

Teachers would continue to receive base-salary increases – 1 percent starting July 1 and 0.5 percent in each of the following two years.

The terms of the agreement state base salaries for teachers next year would range from $37,435 for a starting teacher to $96,994 for a teacher with a master's degree, 25 years of experience and at least 45 hours of continued-education courses.

Changes to insurance and benefits offerings would save about $11.1 million over the three-year period, the district estimates.

The new agreement includes two insurance options for teachers. The first is a PPO plan similar to the district's existing plan, but with higher out-of pocket expenses. Single teachers would pay 20 percent of their health-care coverage, up from 10 percent currently, and those who opt to enroll in a family plan would continue to pay 20 percent.

Both single and family plans on the PPO option would pay a $250 deductible; currently there is no deductible. They also include a 10 percent co-payment for health-care bills.

The second plan is a high-deductible plan that includes a health savings account. Teachers pay 10 percent for single coverage and 20 percent for family coverage, and the plan includes no co-payment.

The teachers association represents 1,105 teachers in the Olentangy school district.

The agreement would help the district stretch a 7.9-mill levy, approved in May 2011, through the 2014-15 school year.

In October, treasurer Becky Jenkins said the district would have to cut about $45 million over a two- to three-year period to achieve that goal.

Earlier this month, Jenkins said expenses for fiscal year 2012 came in roughly $5.6 million under budget after the district hired fewer teachers than anticipated, and after the mild winter drove natural-gas costs down.