The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 8, 2013

Hilltop school board approves 4-year pact

JOHNSTOWN — The Westmont Hilltop school board on Monday approved a four-year-contract with the Westmont Hilltop Education Association that both sides say benefits the school district, students and community.

The teachers ratified the contract last week.

The four-year contract is retroactive to July 1 and runs until June 30, 2017.

The potential savings to the district over the life of the contract is at least $958,557, the district said in a news release.

The district said the average annual salary increase for teachers is estimated at $1,477 a year, or 2.26 percent, including years of service.

The contract calls for the starting salary for new teachers to be increased to $43,500 from $43,000. The teachers, however, have agreed that new teachers will start at $40,000 a year. Those teachers would jump to $41,000 the second year and $42,000 the third.

The district is saving money due to changes in health care and retirement guidelines.

Teachers have agreed to a high-deductible health care plan that this year will see individuals with a deductible of $500 and families,  $1,000. Those amounts would increase to $1,250 for individuals and $2,500 for families by the end of the contract.

Regarding retirement, the contract eliminates the health care provision for future retirees but provides teachers who have at least 15 years’ service with a $15,000 payment.

School board President Diana Schroeder said negotiations focused on important language issues, salary, health care and retiree benefits that allowed the negotiations to move forward in a dignified and respectful manner.

“The district is very appreciative of the partnership of shared common goals that was in evidence during the negotiations,” Schroder said.

“The teachers are to be commended for their investment in the future of this district.”

Westmont Hilltop Education Association President Matt Lohr said that in the current economic environment, it was more important than ever for leaders to work together for the good of the community.

“Our collaborative efforts put the students first,” he said. “This agreement is fair to the employees, the district and the taxpayers.”

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/FrankNews10.

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