With PENNCREST union agreement, local districts set until 2026-27 [The Meadville Tribune, Pa.]
Meadville Tribune (PA)
Feb. 12—PENNCREST School District last week became the latest of three local school districts to approve a labor agreement with its teachers' union.
The five-year agreement, which is retroactive to the 2022-23 school year, continues a trend for the three districts that make up most of Crawford County: As enrollment declines, labor-related costs continue to escalate.
After just over two years of negotiations, PENNCREST School Board approved an agreement with its teachers' union that board President Bob Johnston described as a compromise.
"Both sides were pretty well pleased," Johnston said after a special voting meeting held a week ago. "None of us got everything that we wanted, but we came to some middle ground and everybody's going to walk away satisfied."
Under the newly passed contract, PENNCREST teachers will see their salaries go up retroactively for 2022-23 by 1.45 percent, according to Debbie Miller, president of the 218-member PENNCREST Area Education Association. In 2018, the union had 235 members, according to officials at the time. The next four years will bring additional 2 percent increases on average each year, slightly less than the annual hikes in the previous contract.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), PENNCREST's total enrollment in the 2018-19 school year was 2,770. The enrollment at the end of the new contract is projected to be 2,338.
Crawford Central School District approved a five-year agreement with its teachers' union in September 2022; like the PENNCREST contract, it will expire at the end of the 2026-27 school year.
At the time it was approved, district officials said that it included salary raises of 3.5 percent and 2.75 percent in the first two years followed by a salary increase of 4 percent in the 2024-25 school year. The increases continue with bumps of 2.75 percent and 2.5 percent over the last two years. The cumulative impact of the compounding raises was described as a 16.5 percent increase over the life of the contract.
Crawford Central's enrollment of 3,516 in 2018-19 is projected to shrink to 2,869 by 2026-27, according to PDE.
Conneaut School District approved its current five-year agreement, which also expires with the 2026-27 school year, in August 2022. According to salary tables included in a copy of the contract provided by the district, the contract comes with annual teacher salary increases of nearly 2 percent each year.
In the 2022-23 school year, for instance, a first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree and no experience made $55,286 for the year. A teacher with the same qualifications is scheduled to make $59,485, an increase of $4,199 or 7.6 percent. The teacher who started in 2022-23, in the meantime, would be making $60,443 in 2026-27, an increase of 9.3 percent
Conneaut's enrollment in 2019-19 was 1,911, according to PDE. By 2026-27, district enrollment is expected to shrink to 1,659.
After seeing their health benefits remain static for more than a decade, PENNCREST teachers will make higher contributions under their new contract.
Beginning next year, teachers' health benefits will for the first time set different rates for individuals and family plans, Miller said. Individual contributions will increase from $720 annually to $910. Contributions for teachers with plans that include other family members will increase from $720 to $1,170 each year.
Additional details on health benefits were pending the completion of a final version of the contract.
Conneaut's contract with teachers includes a single medical insurance contribution rate, regardless of whether employees are enrolled for individual or family plans. The monthly contribution amount increases from $65 to $70 over the course of the contract. After meeting an in-network deductible of $200 for individuals and $400 for families, approved services are covered at a rate of $100 with $20 co-pays for physician and specialist visits, among other surcharges.
Crawford Central's contract with teachers includes a traditional PPO option with a sliding scale of monthly contributions that ranges from $25 for individuals to $45 for families. Those rates increase over the life of the contract to $35 for individuals and $55 for families. The plan comes with in-network deductibles of $750 for individuals and $1,500 for families; those figures increase to $850 and $1,700 in the final year of the contract. Teachers also have a high deductible plan option.