By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The School Board approved collective bargaining agreements on Tuesday with two of the three unions representing employees of the district, the Educational Assistants of Laconia, representing para-educators, and the Laconia Association of Support Staff, representing secretaries and custodians.
No agreement with the Laconia Education Association, which represents the teachers in the five schools in the district, has been presented to the School Board and contract talks remain ongoing.
The two-year agreement with the Education Assistants of Laconia provides for a 2.68 percent salary adjustment in the first year, followed by step increase with a 0.5 percent raise in the second year. The contract with the Laconia Association of Support Staff includes a 1.5 percent wage increase in the first year and a step increase and 0.5 percent raise in the second year.
The increase in compensation is funded by a reduction in the cost of health insurance benefits achieved by changing to a plan with a lower premium and eliminating the payment to employees — $1,000 for a single-person plan and $2,000 for a two-person or family plan — to offset the deductible. Altogether, changes in the health insurance plan spared the district $136,585 in costs.
The net cost of the two contracts is approximately $100,000, which business administrator Ed Emond said is included in the 2016-2017 school district budget presented to the City Council.
Emond said that increasing the salaries for para-educators will provide the incentive needed to fill vacant positions. He explained that because wages for para-educators had fallen below those for substitute teachers, the incentive to work part-time as a substitute outweighed that to work full-time as a para-educator.
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