Union's new contract saves money for Green Lake School

Teachers in the Green Lake School District will pay significantly more for their pensions and health insurance under a new, two-year contract just approved.

It takes effect July 1.

Staff will increase their health insurance contribution from 4 to 10 percent. In addition, contributions to the teacher pension plan will be split 50-50 between the teacher and the district.

Currently, the school district pays 100 percent of teachers’ pension contributions.

In addition, the new contract includes a salary freeze. The changes will allow the union to keep much of its current contract intact while providing the district some much-needed financial flexibility, District Administrator Ken Bates said.

Cost-savings will be significant.

“It is hard to commit since we won’t get the savings of health care and pension in year two,” he said. “Based on that I would say we are looking at an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 [savings] in year one based on pension, health care and attrition. Year two will be harder to project since we don’t know the what the state two-year budget is going to be.”

The Green Lake Education Association’s (GLEA) current contract expires June 30. Asked what the quick settlement had to do with the state’s controversial budget-repair bill, Bates replied, “Everything.”

“The teachers approached me about two weeks ago to get started [on the 2011-13 contract],” he said.

In contrast, the GLEA’s two previous contracts weren’t settled until months after the former one expired.

Along with the increased teacher contributions, the new contract includes another big change: Layoffs won’t be decided by seniority alone, Bates explained.

“Which is a big change from the old days,” he said.

Layoffs will be determined first by attrition (teachers leaving the school or retiring), and then seniority/performance/contributions to district goals, he said.

The School Board also will set the school calendar, and be able to bid out the teachers’ health insurance. Read the full article — with additional feedback from Ken Bates — in the March 31 Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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