FWCS Board Approves Teacher Contract

By Scott Sarvay
By Maureen Mespell
By John W. Davis

June 27, 2011 Updated Jun 27, 2011 at 10:41 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - FWCS and the district's teachers union have agreed to a new contract.

Fort Wayne Community Schools Board members gave the deal final approval Monday evening.

"It was the voices of those teachers saying this is important to me. I know it's only gonna be here for two more years but that's huge and we need this in our contract. It's not about the money. It's about what we need to get our jobs done in the classroom," said Fort Wayne Education Association President Al Jacquay.

The measure was approved by a 5-0 vote.

Jacquay told Indiana's NewsCenter the union would have liked to have more working conditions in writing but acknowledges that because of new state laws that will take effect on July 1, FWCS had the upper hand in negotiations.

If the contract was not signed, on July 1, teachers would have been banned from bargaining on work conditions.

So by getting the contract approved Monday, June 27, teachers are "grandfathered" before the new state law takes effect for the next two years.

Jacquay conceded that some of the old contract language was outdated.

Meanwhile, on Monday afternoon, more than 600 teachers voted "yes" to approve the then tentative contract.

Fort Wayne Education Association Executive Director Steve Brace said only one teacher voted "no."

“While it is not the contract we would of like to bring back to the teachers, it is a contract that would further enhance, our ability to collaborate our with Fort Wayne Community Schools, to continue the progress, that will continue the improvement for our boys and girls," said Brace.

FWCS school board approved the contract with a 1% raise in the 2011-2012 school year.

The contract has a one time stipend of .25% in 2012-2013.

The stipend will not raise the base of wages in future years.

There will be no automatic step increases over the next two years.

1% retirement match program has also been suspended for the next two years.

Teachers will also see health insurance costs continue to go up.

However, a new health insurance program will be implemented which provides teachers will three options.

One of those options includes using a Health Saving Account (HSA).

District leaders and Board President Mark GiaQuinta believe that program will end up saving teachers money over three to four year cycles.

The contract also calls for joint-collaboration on the following topics:

-the state teacher evaluation pilot program

-the new health insurance program implementation

-the role of the school improvement plan in addressing student behaviors

-a new compensation/salary schedule to meet new state guidelines

-legal compliance requirements for teachers, essentially updating and incorporating new state requirements into the FWCS district.

The new contract will expire June 30, 2013.

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