NA teacher pact approved

    Three "yes" votes, one abstention, and one absence on Thursday night at a special meeting of the North Adams school board saw a two-year contract with the North Adams Teachers' Association (NATA) approved.
    After NATA members ratified the pact on Wednesday, board members Tim Ehlerding, Ben Faurote, and Don Elder voted for it last night. Board member Michelle Stimpson was unable to attend and member Deb Bergman abstained to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, since her husband, Toney Bergman, is a North Adams teacher.
    The previous one-year collective bargaining agreement between North Adams Teachers Association and the school district’s board of education was executed in February of 2010. Teachers had been working without a contract during the last half of the 2010-2011 school year
    The North Adams district has 150 teachers.
    NA Superintendent Wylie Sirk read from a prepared statement as he said, "This two-year contract is a reflection of the new collective bargaining law. This contract governs teacher wages and wage benefits only."
    He added, 'It is with great pleasure that I recognize the positive cooperation of our North Adams teachers and NATA representatives during our discussions to reach agreement and determine this contract. This agreement allows us to collectively move forward and continue great work in our school system with our students and focus on our goals that support our students and high levels of learning.
    "I am pleased that we have established this multiple-year agreement and believe it provides the appropriate structure and guidance to support North Adams teachers and continue collaboration between teachers, administrators, and the school board.
    "Thus, we can have an environment of learning for all students in which talents and abilities can be developed and excellence in education can be achieved."
    Following are the provisions of the new contract, according to prepared statement handed out by Sirk:
    •  A teacher's salary for the 2011-12 school year will be exactly the same as paid in the 2010-11 school year, with no increment (other than increments attributable to earning a master's degree). Faurote asked how much that will be and was told it will be about $137,000, said administrator Larry Carty.
    •  Salary and compensation beyond the 2011-12 school yearwill  be pursuant to a to-be-developed performance-based compensation system and salary scale under Indiana law. The salary scale will be developed by a joint working ground of [North Adams] administrators and NATA representatives who shall present recommendations to their respective bargaining teams.
    •  North Adams teachers will each be paid a one-time 1.25 percent-of-base teaching salary lump sum stipend in June of 2012. Faurote also asked how much that will be and Carty said the total would be around $84,000.
    Health Insurance
    • The board will pay $11,176 for the family plan. Teachers will pay the remainder of the premium ($4,592). The total premium is $15,768.
    • The board will pay $5,454 for the single plan. Teachers will pay the remainder of the premium ($786). The total premium is $6,240.
    •  Teachers will pay the rate increase of health insurance [in] January of 2012.
    The 2010 collective bargaining agreement contained no increase in teacher salaries, although the school corporation did agree to pay an increased portion of health plans for teachers.
    A new state law approved earlier this year by the Indiana General Assembly limited the items that can be addressed by teachers' unions during collective bargaining process.
     The law limits bargaining between school corporations and teachers' unions to salary and wage-related benefits. Other provisions of the new law state that teacher contracts cannot extend past the budget biennium, and districts cannot collectively bargain teacher evaluation procedures or criteria.