Upper Arlington News

OAPSE, school district agree on 3-year contract

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After two and a half months of what Treasurer Andy Geistfeld called "tough negotiations," the Upper Arlington Board of Education and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 201 reached agreement on a new three-year contract.

It includes no new base salary increases and requires the district's support staff to pay a higher share of health insurance costs.

Geistfeld said eligible employees will still receive step increases, but those depend on years of experience. He said workers get step increases for only a certain number of years.

The new contract will allow the district to realize a "cost avoidance" of more than $300,000 over the current five-year forecast, he said.

The board held a special meeting at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 10, to approve the contract. The three members who attended -- board President Stacey Royer, Nancy Drees and Carol Mohr -- unanimously approved the pact. Board members Robin Comfort and Matt McClellan were absent.

OAPSE Local 201 represents 155 staff members, including secretaries, bus drivers, mechanics, maintenance workers, food service staff and custodians.

"They were tough negotiations that started in December and ended just last week," Geistfeld said. "They were civil and meaningful, though, and the OAPSE representatives understood that times are different now. They were willing to work with the district in areas that directly affect our students."

Chad Caldwell, field representative for OAPSE, said the support staff voted Feb. 8 to ratify the agreement by a 2-to-1 ratio.

The contract is retroactive to Jan. 1 and runs until Dec. 31, 2016. Geistfeld said not only does it call for no base salary increases, but beginning in 2015, workers will pay a larger portion of their health insurance premiums.

"Any employee hired after March 1 who works less than 25 hours will no longer be eligible for insurance," he said. "Under the old contract, they paid a larger portion, but were still eligible for insurance."

Workers will pay 15 percent of their health insurance premiums beginning Jan. 1, 2015, an increase from the 8 percent that individuals and 11 percent that families paid in 2013.

Language changes in the contract will also allow for greater efficiencies in the transportation department.

"What both sides agreed to results in fewer staffing changes, so that students and parents won't have to see a different bus driver every year," he said. "The consistency throughout this contract allows us to serve our students and families better."

Local 201 President Mike Vernon said the union members are committed to supporting the needs of students.

"We understand the current financial situation and we know this has to be a team effort," he said.

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