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Hudson teachers agree to pay more for health-care premiums

By John Published: October 27, 2010

John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

Hudson teachers have agreed to concessions including a boost in health-care contributions in hopes of persuading voters to approve a new levy on Tuesday's ballot.

The union membership and school board signed off on the pact earlier this week.

The current two-year contract expires Aug. 31, but teachers agreed to start bargaining six months early and reached a one-year agreement that includes a freeze in base pay.

In addition, the teachers agreed to pay 10 percent toward their annual health-care premium.

For single coverage, teachers now pay $250 toward the annual premium. In January, they'll pay about $746. Families currently pay $500 annually. Next year, they'll pay about $1,637.

The change is expected to save the district $244,000 for the rest of this school year and $371,000 annually.

''The board asked for concessions and the teachers have given them,'' said David Spohn, president of the Hudson Education Association. ''At this point in time, the levy is about students and programming.''

The union represents 375 teachers, counselors and librarians.

Hudson hopes to pass a 5.9-mill levy that would raise about $5.6 million a year for daily operations and cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $181 a year.

The teachers' current two-year contract includes a 1.5 percent increase in base pay in each year. Teachers will still get this year's raise.

''At that time, it was the smallest increase they had had in over a decade,'' said Superintendent Steven Farnsworth. ''When we spoke to different groups in our community, we heard loudly and clearly that if we wanted this levy to pass, the staff was going to have to share in the sacrifice that community members had experienced as a result of the downturn in the economy.''

The average teacher salary in Hudson is $71,313, according to 2009-10 data from the Ohio Department of Education.

Administrators voluntarily froze their salaries and bumped up their health-care contributions to 10 percent of the premium. Then they asked the union to begin bargaining on the next contract ahead of schedule.

Although the contract freezes base pay for a year, teachers will continue to get the raises that come with years of service and the attainment of advanced degrees.

The state mandates that all districts have a salary step schedule with a minimum of 12 steps that compensates teachers for experience and education.

Hudson teachers get a raise in base pay each year for the first 15 years of service. Subsequent steps in the schedule increase pay again at years 18, 21, 24 and 27 of service, Farnsworth said. Obtaining master's and doctorate degrees also bumps up a teacher's pay.

Farnsworth said the district has made $8.8 million in cuts over the last four years but will need more to make this levy, if it passes, last four years.

''If the levy doesn't pass in this calendar year, 2010, then we would not only have to pass a levy in 2011, it would have to be like 7.9 mills and even at that, it wouldn't get us four years. We'd have to be back in two years. That's why it's so important that we pass the levy in 2010,'' Farnsworth said.


John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or jhiggins@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the education blog at http://education.ohio.com/.

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