The Gahanna-Jefferson school board has approved a one-year contact with the district’s teachers, providing a 2% salary increase for the 2019-20 school year.

The board unanimously approved the contract, effective July 1 through June 30, 2020, during a special meeting June 26, said Beryl Piccolantonio, board president.

“We appreciate the hard work of the negotiation team in reaching an agreement on a contract that reflects the values shared by our teachers, our administrative team and our board,” she said. “Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools is a district where students come first and we are proud to have an agreement that supports this belief.”

Other board members who voted to approve the agreement were Matthew Campbell, Jennifer Chrysler, Bryan Hairston and Daphne Moehring.

Treasurer Kristine Blind said a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and 10 years of experience earned $63,199 in fiscal year 2019, and based on the 2% increase, that same teacher would earn $64,463 in fiscal 2020.

Regarding a step increase, based on years of experience, a teacher with a bachelor’s degree, plus 10 years of experience, would have earned $63,199 in fiscal 2019, and that same teacher with another year of experience (11 years) would earn $66,784 in fiscal 2020. If that teacher wouldn’t have received the 2% increase, Blind said, the teacher would have earned $65,475 due to the step increase.

“The most important take away is the 2% base increase,” Blind said. “A step increase is a small percentage (some) teachers receive every year. Every step is tied to a base. There’s an incremental increase for longevity. Teachers with a bachelor’s (degree) get an increase every year up to 11. It fluctuates all over the board. It’s not every year.”

Effective Aug. 1, the minimum salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $42,201, according to the contract.

In addition to the 2% raises, the contract includes a substantial increase in health-care contributions made by both the teachers and the school district to cover rising health-care costs, according to Judy Hengstebeck, the district’s communications coordinator.

The single-employee premium increased $39.31 per month for a new monthly premium of $127.70, or $1,532.40 per year, according to Blind. The family employee premium increased $134.62 per month for a new monthly premium of $437.22, or $5,246.64 per year, she said.

Jenny Palguta, president of the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association, said the union includes 557 teachers.

She said the teachers’ ratification meeting for the agreement was May 30, the last work day of the school year.

Of the members in attendance, Palguta said, 94% voted for it.

“The teachers of this district are committed to hiring and keeping a quality teacher in every classroom,” she said. “It is our goal to have a safe, positive working environment for our students. We hope the community and (school board) continue to support our efforts to make this happen.”

Superintendent Steve Barrett said the district values its teachers and the commitment they have to students and families.

“It is important that we recognize that dedication with this compensation package,” he said. “We are proud of the collaborative process in reaching this agreement that prioritizes both the fiscal health of our district and the success of our students and educators.

“Unfortunately, the cost of medical insurance continues to escalate.”

Barrett said he appreciates teachers, administrators and the school board recognizing that an increase in health-care contributions was necessary.