A three-year contract, approved May 23 by the South-Western City Schools Board of Education, gives about 950 classified workers in the district an agreement nearly identical to one approved by teachers in March.

A three-year contract, approved May 23 by the South-Western City Schools Board of Education, gives about 950 classified workers in the district an agreement nearly identical to one approved by teachers in March.

The pact provides for no base-pay raises the first year, a 0.5-percent increase for the second year and a 1-percent raise for the third year. Step pay increases, given mainly for years spent on the job, will remain. South-Western's 1,400 teachers and certified employees received the same base-pay increases in their three-year contract, as well as keeping step increases.

Classified workers, including bus drivers, food-service employees and custodians, also will pay more for health and dental insurance. Those on single insurance coverage will pay 3 percent of the premium next school year and 10 percent the following year. Family coverage remains at 35 percent of the premium. The contract for teachers is similar regarding health and dental premiums.

District treasurer Hugh Garside on May 25 estimated the new contract's provisions will cost about $58,000 during the next two fiscal years.

He said that will save the district an estimated $5.2-million, compared to the cost of giving 2-percent raises to both OAPSE and the teachers' union during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 fiscal years. (The teachers union, South-Western Education Association, earlier accepted the same pay raise percentages as OAPSE.) A $5.3-million cost for the 2-percent raises was spelled out in the district's October 2010 five-year financial forecast.

Classified workers have been without a contract since June 30. The new agreement, approved by members of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 211 on May 21, is retroactive to July 1 and expires on June 30, 2013.

The school board approved the agreement by a 4-1 vote with member Jo Ellen Myers dissenting, as she did back in March on the contract with the South-Western Education Association.

"If (it were) a two-year contract ending next year I would accept it," she said. "Being a three-year contract, I'm going to decline."

Myers had said in March she wanted to see the impact of Senate Bill 5, which significantly limits collective bargaining by public employees in Ohio, before approving a long-term contract.

That bill has since been signed into law, but a petition drive likely will lead to a statewide referendum vote on Senate Bill 5 in November.

Board president Mindy Garverick, who served on the district's negotiating team, said after the May 23 meeting that "it would always be nice to be unanimous (on the board vote). ... This (contract) is a win-win for everyone."

No union officials, including Local 211 president Sue Tope, attended the May 23 meeting. The talks had gone on for months and went to a federal mediator last year. No negotiation sessions had been held since April 11 when the district gave the union its latest proposal.

Superintendent Bill Wise praised the contract and said in a statement, "We want to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used as effectively as possible. This agreement also helps us meet the promises made to our community prior to the passage of our most recent operating levy."

That 7.4-mill levy, approved by voters in November 2009, raises about $18.5 million a year.

A third district union, which represents about 85 administrators, approved a one-year contract last June. That contract, which expires on June 30, also included no base-pay raises.