Lisbon teachers get new contract

LISBON – Lisbon teachers and the school board have agreed on a new three-year contract, with both sides making concessions.

Under the contract approved at Tuesday’s board meeting, teachers would receive a combined 5 percent increase in compensation over three years, in exchange for agreeing to pay $90,000 more for health insurance. The net cost to the district will be $90,000 over the length of the contract, which takes effect July 1.

“The cooperative spirit and attitude in the district prevails over whatever else happens,” said School Superintendent Don Thompson, adding the new pact accomplishes the goal of cutting costs and treating teachers fairly while focusing on continuing to provide students a quality education.

An unidentified teacher who was part of the negotiations agreed, saying, “We just wanted the district to be (financially) solid in three years … In the end the students win, and that’s what we wanted.”

With expenses continuing to exceed revenue, offset only by a substantial but dwindling budget balance, Thompson said they came up with a way to increase compensation while limiting the impact on the base salary, which rises with each across-the-board pay raise that is granted.

As a result, teachers will receive an annual payment equal to 2 percent of their salary the first two years of the contract, but the additional compensation will not increase their base salary. In the third year, all 60 teachers will receive an across-the board 1 percent pay raise that will apply to their base salary.

In exchange, teachers will pay 12 percent of the cost of their monthly health insurance premium instead of the current 10 percent. Medical deductibles will also increase from $200 to $250 for single coverage and from $400 to $500 for family coverage.

More importantly, the contract includes language establishing the framework by which the district will develop a teacher-evaluation policy that complies with state law. The policy has to be in place by July 1, and Thompson said there would be no contract had the board and teachers been unable to agree on the evaluation policy.

The new contract comes two days after Beaver Local teachers voted to authorize the issuance of a strike notice by the start of the school year, and the union indicated a major sticking point is the parties’ inability to reach a consensus on the new teacher evaluation.

“We don’t always agree, and I think what makes Lisbon different is that we sometimes agree to disagree but come together for the students,” said board member Jeff Elliott.

Under the previous three-year contract, Lisbon teachers received a combined 5 percent pay raise but agreed to begin working an extra 30 minutes per day, using the additional time for professional development, staff meetings, and planning sessions.