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News Article
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UPSD Teachers Union Ratifies New Contract
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            The Upper Perkiomen Education Association voted last week to ratify a new contract with the school district. The teachers union approved a new three-year contract on Thursday, March 16.

            It passed very easily in a vote by the members, according to Philip Detwiler, the association's vice president. He declined to provide specific details, but described the outcome as a "resounding yes."

            The contract is retroactive to July 1, 2022, and runs through the end of the 2024-25 school year. The agreement includes salary increases, health care plan cost savings for both parties, an increase in guaranteed preparation time for teachers and additional scheduling flexibility for the district, according to information provided by Superintendent Allyn Roche.

            "The inclusion of retroactive pay was a big plus," Detwiler said Monday afternoon.

            "We are very pleased to have reached this agreement that we feel is mutually beneficial for both the district and its teachers," School Board President Melanie Cunningham said in the prepared statement.  "We value the excellent work of our teachers and look forward to continuing to collaborate with them on providing the best possible educational experience for our students."

            Under the terms of the contract, teachers will receive salary increases of 2.1 percent, 2.0 percent, and 1.7 percent in years one through three, respectively.

            Additionally, teachers with fewer than 15 years of experience will receive salary level increases averaging about 2.60 percent, 2.41 percent and 2.22 percent, respectively, for each of the three years of the contract as they gain seniority above the 2.1 percent, 2.0 percent and 1.7 percent increases listed in the contract.

            By 2024-25, starting salaries for teachers will increase from $47,994 to $52,252. The hike will enable the district to recruit highly qualified teachers in a competitive labor environment. The maximum salary for teachers at the top of the scale will increase from $108,022 to $112,055, according to the news release from the board.

            As of July 1, the core health plan for teachers will be modified to mirror less costly (lower actuarial value) health benefits plans in surrounding districts. They will also have the option of moving from the core health benefit plan to a high deductible plan, which may result in even lower premium costs for teachers. Recommended and agreed-upon changes to the prescription coverage plan will result in at least a $534,000 cost savings over the last two years of the contract.

            Detwiler described the agreement's healthcare clauses as somewhat concerning. He said the members will pay more in utilization fees.

            "It's a tough pill to swallow," said Detwiler, a middle school social studies teacher.

           The agreement also includes modifications to how time is assigned and scheduled throughout the day. While granting additional guaranteed preparation time each week to teachers, it also provides the district more flexibility in the way teachers are assigned to duties such as covering classes, recess duty, and arrival/dismissal times. The news release describes the language changes as important in allowing the district to deliver its educational program more efficiently.  

            The preparation time requirements won't be implemented until the 2023-24 school year, according to Detwiler. He said representatives from both sides need to determine how the language will be applied.

            Earlier this month, the school board voted 8-1 to approve the terms crafted by John M. Skonier, an arbitrator appointed by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.  Raeann Hofkin cast the lone vote opposing the action item.






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