More than 300 Whitehall City School District employees are under contract until 2020 after Whitehall school board members June 1 approved a collective-bargaining agreement with the district's classified personnel.

"I believe we reached an agreement that fairly reflects both the needs of the board and (the Ohio Association of Public School Employees)," district Treasurer Steve McAfee said.

Board members approved a new three-year contract with the association 4-0, with Walter Armes absent.

The association represents 103 classified school district employees, including secretaries, custodians and those in transportation and food service.

On May 11, board members voted 3-0 to approve a new three-year contract with the Whitehall Education Association. Armes and board member Joy Bivens were absent.

The education association represents 222 certified school district employees, including teachers, guidance counselors, librarians and nurses.

Both collective-bargaining agreements begin July 1 and extend through June 30, 2020.

Members of both associations each ratified agreements prior to the board's approval.

The new three-year contract with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees provides 1.5 percent raises in each of the next three years but also requires employees to pay more for health insurance.

Similarly, Whitehall Education Association employees will receive 2 percent raises in each of the next three years with higher health-insurance costs.

The board will contribute more to the health savings accounts of Ohio Association of Public School Employees members than Whitehall Education Association employees, compensating for the 0.5 percent difference in salary increases, McAfee said.

The district is shifting both organizations away from a preferred-provider system.

"The biggest change (in both contracts was) moving from a (preferred-provider organization) to a high-deductible health plan ... costs (to employees) will increase. We are trying to keep up with the times," McAfee said.

Under the current education association contract that expires June 30, McAfee estimated employees opting for single coverage paid about 7 percent of monthly health-insurance premiums. It will increase to about 10 percent under the new contract.

Under a family plan, the employee's share will increase from about 13 percent to 15 percent, McAfee said.

The share of health care costs for classified personnel opting for a family plan will increase from about 11 percent to about 13 percent; single-coverage costs will increase from about 4 percent to 6 percent, McAfee said.

"We are pleased with the district's actions but are not happy about health insurance ... but that's not the district's fault. No one is very happy about health insurance," said Mike Munroe, a teacher at Whitehall-Yearling High School who represented high school teachers and other Whitehall education association personnel during contract negotiations.

A representative from the Ohio Association of Public School Employees was not available for comment.

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