Two years of negotiations came to a close Tuesday night as the North Kingstown School Committee unanimously approved a contract for the school district’s support staff. The new three-year contract covers July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2015 and is estimated to save the school department $1.7 million during that time.
"It was the most difficult this we've had to do in my time on the school committee," said Committee Chair Kimberly Page on the contract.
Check below for the fiscal impact statement regarding the contract.
The school committee’s negotiations sub-committee finished the contract after a seven-hour session on Thursday. According to Superintendent Phil Auger, the new contract does not include any custodian-related items. Currently, the school department is involved in litigation with North Kingstown Education Support Professionals union – which represents the district's teaching assistants, cafeteria workers, bus workers, clerks, custodians, etc. – over the custodial issue after the School Committee voted to privatize the school district’s custodial staff.
“Once we were able to separate those two items, there was a lot we found we could agree on,” said Auger.
The biggest savings from the new contract derive from the increase of health insurance co-shares. Employees formerly paid a 4 percent co-share, which now goes up to 15 percent. Annually, this will save the school department about $250,000 per year – adding up to $762,000 for the three years.
The contract also moves nine full-time positions to 18 part-time positions, saving $551,688 over the three years. Health coverage for part-time employees (i.e. those working fewer than 30 hours per week) has also been eliminated, resulting in savings of $354,312.
ESP employees will receive pay increases with the contract – 0 percent in the first year, 1 percent in the second year and 0.75 percent the third year – costing the school department $121,000 over three years. ESP also will receive an increase for tuition reimbursements (now $600 per course, up from $400), increase in professional development stipends (costing $2,000 per year) and an increase in severance pay (now four weeks, up from two weeks).
During Tuesday night’s meeting, Auger praised Nancy Ferencko and Sandy Blankenship of ESP for their leadership during the negotiating process. Contract negotiations began nearly two years ago between school officials and the union.
With this new contract, the School Committee will not pursue outsourcing its food services program. For the past several years, the school department’s food services (the state’s only in-house cafeteria program) has run in the red by more than $100,000 each year. In November, . If the committee looks to readdress the issue, it will have to wait until the contract expires in 2015.
FY13 FY14 FY15 TOTAL Savings Increase health co-share to 15% $250,000 $254,000 $258,000 $762,000 9 full-time employees down to 18 part-time $175,000 $183,750 $192,938 $551,688 Elimination of health coverage for part-time employees $105,000 $117,600 $131,712 $354,312 Elimination of paid life insurance $34,000 $35,360 $36,774 $106,134 Adjustment of health insurance buyback rates $32,000 $32,000 $32,000 $96,000 School year reduced to 184 days -- $12,000 $12,000 $24,000 Added Costs Severance at retirement (estimated 3 retirees per year)
$3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $9,000 Increase in professional development cap (increase from $8,000 to $10,000) $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $6,000 Increase in tuition reimbursement (from $400 to $600 per course) $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $6,000 Increase in professional development stipends (from $200 to $350) $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $6,000