GILMANTON — A new collective bargaining agreement with teachers was one of the key budget items on the minds of town Budget Committee Wednesday night when it got its first look at the proposed 2014-2015 School District budget.
The negotiated contract with the Gilmanton Teachers Association is a three-year deal that will add an estimated $26,777 to the bottom line in 2014-15, $55,562 to the budget in 2015-16, and $72,825 more to the budget in 2016-17.
Significant, at least to Budget Committee member Richard Bakos, is the compromise reached whereby over the three years of the contract teachers will begin paying for a portion of the premiums for their health insurance.
"We heard loud and clear that health care was a concern," said board member Renee Kordas, recalling Bakos's statements about health insurance costs last year.
She said one change in the 2015-2017 contract — the money portions of which will be voted on by the electorate at during the ballot portion of the annual School District meeting — is leaving the Local Government Center for health insurance and joining with School Care, which is managed by Cigna.
Key to the new plan is the elimination of the $1 three-month mail-away prescription program said Kordas — a program that Kordas said was something many teachers used and that was critical to the negotiations.
For the first time, teachers who have a single-person plan will start paying a portion of the premiums for their health coverage. In the first year of the contract single plan holders will contribute 5 percent, two-person plan holders will contribute 20 percent, and family-plan holders will contribute 25 percent.
Kordas explained that the teacher contributions to the health insurance plan will adjust annually so that by the third year every one who participates in health insurance will be paying at least 15 percent of the premium.
The teachers also negotiated a 6.09 percent pay increase over the three years of the contract — much of which for many will be offset in terms of take-home pay by the restructured health insurance plan.
Right now the School District pays 100 percent of the insurance premiums for a basic single-person plan and the rest of the teacher contributions are based on a scale that is conditioned by which plan they choose and how many people are insured under it.
Kordas also said the new School Care contract has three plans from which to choose as opposed to the "many" plans offered by the Local Government Center.
Bakos applauded the School District for "making great strides", saying that Gilmanton town employees pay 20-percent of the premiums for their health insurance and those in the private sector average paying around 35 percent.
Kordas said the new health insurance plan will save the district $23,000 in the first year, however she said she would be reluctant to guess at the savings for years two and three because it's too hard to predict that far out in time.
Bakos also wanted to know if the newly negotiated plan was "Obama-mandated", meaning it meets the parameters of the Affordable Care Act and Kordas said it was.
Superintendent John Fauci said yesterday that the para-educators who are not unionized typically "don't get as rich of a plan" as do the teachers. He said the rest of the school's employees vary but the administration usually takes plans similar to the union's.