School Board OKs Union Contract, Goes to Warrant

The School Board has unanimously approved the School District’s Allied Health contract, which will go to the voters in March.

The contract includes 33 employees, among them nurses, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists, according to Human Resources Director Suzie Swenson.

“This group is so important,” she said. “Every one of our employees is very important to the District, but this group works so much with our special education population.”

In addition to providing a service to students with special educational needs, economically speaking, the health professionals save the District a substantial amount of money, school officials say.

Superintendent Nate Greenberg said by keeping special education students in the District rather than contracting out services, the District saved $8.9 million this year and over $61 million between FY06 and FY16.

The warrant article on the budget will include a FY16 cost impact of $85,321 and a FY17 impact of $87,017, according to Swenson, who noted the District only negotiated a two-year contract, rather than a three-year contract, due to uncertainty about future health insurance costs for employees.

“We usually do a three-year contract, but everyone is holding off because of the Obamacare Cadillac tax in FY15,” she said.

The contract additionally includes an average 3.1 percent annual step increase for employees in both years of the contract, with a 1.5 percent increase at the top of the scale and a descending step increase of 3 percent.

It took only three meetings for the District and Allied Health to negotiate the contract, according to Swenson.

“It was very smooth,” she said. “They’re just a great group to work with.

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