Pickerington Local School District teachers have a labor agreement in place that will provide annual raises ranging from 2 percent to 2.5 percent over the next three years.

The school board voted unanimously May 21 to approve a three-year contract with the Pickerington Education Association.

The contract runs from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2021.

Under the agreement, the district's teachers and other nonadministrative, certified staff members will receive a 2.5 percent increase to their base salaries in the 2018-19 school year.

They will receive 2 percent increases to base salaries in both 2019-20 and 2020-21, per the contract.

"PEA feels this contract is fair and benefits everyone -- our membership, the district, and the Pickerington community," said Heather Tinsley, PEA president.

"It guarantees stability as we move forward for the next three years and reaffirms everyone's commitment to doing our best to address the diverse educational needs and backgrounds of each of our students."

Pickerington Superintendent Chris Briggs called the negotiations leading to the new contract "incredibly positive," and said the school board and PEA were able to "come to a consensus on the agreement in a very short period of time, which speaks to what a great district we have in Pickerington."

"In our most recent community survey, 83 percent of people rated the quality of education being provided by Pickerington schools as excellent or good," he said.

"That reinforces what I say all the time: That a school district is not just about numbers on the state report card.

"It's about its people, and ensuring we can attract and retain the best educators possible is going to be a key component to our continued success moving forward."

District treasurer Ryan Jenkins said the agreement increases the annual salary of a beginning teacher with no prior experience from the current $40,710 to $43,414 for 2020-21.

Many teachers also get step increases in addition to base salary raises. On average across all teachers, salaries increase by about 2.3 to 2.4 percent per year for teachers adding years of experience and in changing salary columns via education/professional development, Jenkins said.

In total, he said, the new contract "equates to a projected $6.676 million in additional salary costs and $1.130 million in retirement, Medicare and other related benefits over the three-year contract."

The previous contract between the district and the PEA was approved in August 2015. It provided teachers with a 2.75 percent increase to their base salaries in its first year, and 2.25 percent raises for 2016-17 and 2017-18.

In exchange, the PEA agreed in August 2015 teachers would pay 20 percent of their insurance premiums and major medical costs. They paid 15 percent under the previous contract.

Those terms will remain the same under the new contract.

Language was added to the new contract to stipulate that "falsification of a sick leave statement shall be grounds for serious disciplinary action, including potential termination of employment," and it removed "social obligations" as a type of leave of absence.