RTM vote looms on teacher pact with small raises, concessions
A three-year contract for Fairfield's teachers, with a 2 percent raise first year but smaller pay raises in the second and third years, as well as higher insurance payments, is up for action next Monday by the Representative Town Meeting
If the RTM gives final approval to the pact with the Fairfield Education Association, the overall salary cost by year three will total $78,213,217. That includes both wage increases and step increments covered by the pact, which runs from next July 1 to June 30, 2015. The salary account in the FEA's current contract is now $73,344,888.
Under the proposed contract, there will be a 2 percent general wage increase in 2012-13; a 0.18 percent raise in 2013-14, and a 0.27 percent hike in 2014-15. As for step increments, there is no movement in the first year. However, wage step amounts in years two and three are 2.07 percent and 1.98 percent, respectively. In addition, teachers have agreed to a reduction in steps from 25 to 22.
The Board of Education approved the contract during a special meeting Dec. 1.
Margaret Mary Fitzgerald, assistant superintendent of human resources, said the contract is "fair for both sides given the economic climate that the town and the board continue to face."
Fairfield Education Association President Anne Pasco declined comment, as did school board members, pending the RTM decision.
Payments by teachers for various elements of their health coverage would increase under the contract.
Premium cost share for PPO and HMO plans would also rise, as well as co-payments under the plans. Teachers currently contribute 16 percent toward the PPO and 14 percent for the HMO. The new contract in the first year calls for an 18 percent contribution for the PPO, and 16 percent for the HMO. In the following two years, the teachers' contribution for each plan would rise 1 percent. As for co-pays, the "home and office" category rises from $20 to $25; as does the "specialist" category; emergency room visits double from $50 to $100; "hospital," now at $100, also doubles, and "outpatient surgery," which currently has a no co-pay, will be $50 by next July 1.
The premium cost share for the prescription drug plan will rise from the current 16 to 18, 19 and 20 percent over the three years, while co-pays for one-time mail orders for a 90-day supply will bump up $5 for various drugs. The current co-pays are $10, $20 and $35.
Premium cost share for PPO and HMO plans would also rise, as well as co-payments under the plans. Teachers currently contribute 16 percent toward the PPO and 14 percent for the HMO. The new contract calls for an 18 percent contribution for the PPO, and 16 percent for the HMO, in year one. In the following two years, the contribution for each plan rises by 1 percent. As for co-pays, the "home and office" category rises from $20 to $25, as does the "specialist" category; emergency room visits double from $50 to $100; "hospital," now at $100, also doubles, and "outpatient surgery," which currently has no co-payment, will be $50 by next July 1.
In total, with all of the higher contibutions for health coverage, the school district would expect to realize a savings of $515,577 in the pact's first fiscal year, according to a memorandum prepared for the RTM.
Under the proposal, the teachers' union would also made a concession by agreeing to take on more students, at both the middle and high school levels. The town's three middle schools operate on a format called the "middle school concept," in which a group of students is assigned to a group of teachers. Currently, each group of 112 middle school students is overseen by a team of five teachers. The new contract calls for increasing the student maximum to 120 for each five-teacher group. At the high school level, most classes will see student load rise by up to five students per day.
The larger number of students assigned to teachers should help school administrators accommodate more students in each school and avoid hiring more staff, officials said.
The RTM's session gets under way at 8 p.m. in Osborn Hill School, 760 Stillson Road.