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STOW -- A 2 percent annual salary increase will go into effective July 1 for the Stow-Munroe Falls district's certificated teachers and staff members following the ratification of a new contract.
Both the Board of Education and the Stow Teachers Association agreed on a new three-year contract for the educators after three days of negotiations. The teachers ratified the contract on March 24 and the Board approved the contract at its April 10 meeting. The contract will be in effect from July 1 of this year through June 30, 2020.
"I would like to thank both sides for the positive and collaborative negotiation process," said Superintendent Tom Bratten. "This is the first time in 10 years we have been able to complete contract negotiations before the school year ends. Over the last few years, we have built a spirit of trust, cooperation and collaboration throughout the district."
"A three-day contract negotiation period demonstrates the good will between the Board of Education and the teachers in the Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools," said Deb Pauley, Stow Teachers Association president. "The terms reached in the agreement are similar to state-wide norms and are agreeable to both the teachers and district as a whole."
The three-year contract has an option for a fourth year, according to Bratten. That option will be dependent on the treasurer being able to certify the funds will be available for that fourth year of a 2 percent raise, which wouldn't be possible until going into the third year of the contract. If the funds' availability cannot be certified, then negotiations would begin for a new contract, he added.
Bratten said the increases had been planned for and included in the district's five-year forecast for several years, so the forecast won't need to be adjusted. The district is required to provide a five-year forecast each October, with adjustments being made based on actual revenue and expenditures in May.
As part of the contract, the district and the Stow Teachers Association collaborated to reach a salary index for teachers that is comparable to similar districts in Summit County "with the goal of retaining the most experienced and best teachers to serve students." Bratten said the index was "cleaned up" to make the factors of an employee's 17th year and beyond more consistent with those in the previous 16 years. Bratten said the previous index made it "almost detrimental" to stay in the district past the 16th year.
There were no changes made to benefits, healthcare or retirement, he added.
"Thank you to everyone involved in the negotiations for making it a productive and efficient process," said Gerry Bettio, Board of Education president. "The students in our district are our first priority. Finalizing the contract in just three days allows us to fully focus on the students and finishing out the school year strong."
Before negotiations began, the district and Stow Teachers Association participated in two days of Critical Interest Based Negotiations training. The training, along with the relationship between teachers and staff and the administration, allowed them to complete the negotiations process in three days.
"In the Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools, we are dedicated to our students and they are the focus of all decisions we make," said Bratten. "We are lucky to have teachers and staff members who put our students first."