BELOIT- The West Branch school board Thursday extended its contract with the district's classified staff.
The board in a special session agreed to a one-year contract extension with the West Branch Classified Education Association (WBCEA) through the 2013-14 school year. Similar to the contract ratified by the West Branch Education Association (WBEA) in September, the extension with the WBCEA will grant all eligible employees a one-half step increase in pay and carry the condition that if the district receives additional funding from the state in a supplemental guarantee of at least $200,000, then eligible employees will receive an additional half-step in pay. In addition, the new contract freezes medical contribution rates for all district employees for the year.
Both the WBCEA and WBEA contracts will expire June 30, 2014.
According to a statement issued by schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Weingart, school board members and administration presented the extension proposal to the WBCEA officers on Jan. 22 and membership unanimously approved it on Jan. 31.
"The WBCEA officers are to be commended for their leadership in reaching this contract extension so quickly," Weingart said. "The fact that the WBCEA membership approved the proposal unanimously is a clear sign that the classified employees at West Branch understand and acknowledge the financial restrictions under which all school districts in Ohio are operating. A long negotiation process at this point really would not have moved the district forward in a positive way."
Weingart said that the administration is committed to offering a fair compensation for district employees.
"The contract proposal is not at the same level in terms of salary that the district has been able to offer employees in the past," he said. "Still, the proposal sought to be fair, fiscally responsible, and to recognize the fine work that our classified employees provide to the students at West Branch Local Schools day in and day out."
WBCEA President Ted Lenigar said in a written statement that he believed offering the classified employees the same basic framework as the teachers was a positive thing for the district and the community.
"Steps provide modest increases in pay to our newer and younger employees," he said. "For many of us who have been with the district for some time, this will not result in any increase in pay. Still, we are able to provide something for the majority of our employees regarding salary, and we were able to maintain the cost of health care, which is very important to our membership.
"West Branch is a great place to work, and we hope that the willingness of the WBCEA to avoid a lengthy negotiations process is a clear sign