The Grandview Heights school board and its teachers union have ratified a new three-year contract.

The board unanimously approved the contract May 8, following the Grandview Heights Education Association's ratification of the agreement May 6.

The contract gives teachers a 2.5% increase in base pay the first year, a 2.2% increase the second year and a 2 % increase in the final year.

The agreement begins with the 2019-20 school year and runs through the 2021-22 school year.

In the previous two-year contract approved in April 2016, teachers earned a 0.75% increase in the first year of the agreement and a 1% increase in the second year. The two sides later agreed to extend the contract through the current school year.

The new starting base salary for the 2019-20 school year for teachers with a bachelor's degree and no experience will be $42,009. For the following two years, it will be $42,933 and $43,791, respectively.

The new contract, which covers 105 teachers, maintains the current health-insurance arrangement.

The board will continue to pay % of teachers' health-insurance premiums on standard single plans and 80% for family plans, with teachers paying the rest of the cost.

The designated share of the premium costs will stay the same if insurance rates increase by less than 10%. If premiums increase by more than 10%, the employees and board equally will share the cost of the increase.

The new contract provides "a fair and reasonable salary and benefits package," education association President Cheryl Brown said.

From the union's perspective, one of the most important provisions in the contract will ensure the shared leadership provided by the District Development Council is maintained, she said.

The council is composed of the superintendent, five members of the district's administrative council, the Grandview Heights Education Association president and five at-large faculty members selected by the association.

"We felt it was important for a balanced leadership group of administration and GHEA leadership to continue to look at new classes, programs and other issues that have an effect on our students, staff and district as a whole," Brown said.

The contract's provisions about the development council "aren't very exciting or headline-grabbing, but it was important that we were able to clean up and clarify the language about the DDC to make sure it better aligns with the goals of the district," school board President Jesse Truett said.

The council's charges include developing an annual list of long-term and short-term goals and objectives the district can accomplish.

Language has been added to clarify that "the board will identify the goals, the administration will set the objectives and the DDC will set the action steps to accomplish them," Truett said.

The agreement also sets a more structured process for determining school-year calendars, he said.

The district now strives to set school calendars three years in advance. A calendar committee composed of three representatives appointed by the superintendent and three by the education association president now will begin to meet in January each year and forward a recommendation to the school board for its approval by Feb. 28.

Grandview teachers also now will receive a stipend for work they complete outside the contract year, including designing curriculum for the coming school year.

All teachers, except those on unpaid leave for the entire school year, will receive an annual stipend of $150.

New teachers will be required to attend two days of orientation and will receive a $150 stipend for each day.

High school and middle school teachers who agree to teach a seventh period of students for a course approved by the principal one semester or more will be paid an additional $3,000 per semester.

"It's not something they will be forced to do. They have to agree to teach a seventh class period," Truett said. "In a small district like ours, that's something our teachers sometimes do to help meet the needs of our students."

It would be much more expensive to hire a new teacher to conduct the classes that existing staff will be able to handle during the seventh period each day, he said.

The contract negotiations involved a healthy give and take that ultimately resulted in a deal that "strikes the balance you need" among being fair to teachers and demonstrating they are valued, being responsible to the taxpayers and meeting the needs of students, Truett said.

"Negotiations were exactly what they should be, with both sides gaining and both sides giving, as we worked through the issues," Brown said. "The GHEA felt that the outcome reflected the willingness of both the administration and the association to work together to continue to provide the best possible environment for teaching and learning."

"Our amazing teaching staff are the foundation of our excellent schools," Superintendent Andy Culp said.

The contract "will allow Grandview Heights Schools to continue to attract and retain an excellent staff, benefiting all of our students," he said.

afroman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekAfroman