Oak Harbor teachers approve contract

After five months of negotiations, the Oak Harbor School District and the teachers union agreed on a new three-year contract.

The Oak Harbor Education Association unanimously approved the contract this week. Now it heads to the Oak Harbor School Board for their approval, which should take place Monday, Sept. 12.

The union and the school district tentatively agreed on a contract late last month and union members voted on it this week.

“It shows the maturity of the relationship the teachers have with the school district,” said Peter Szalai, president of the Oak Harbor Education Association.

School board president Kathy Jones said in a written statement that she was happy an agreement was reached before the beginning of school and everyone can concentrate on teaching kids instead of worrying about the next contract.

Teachers will receive a 1.2 percent pay increase in 2005 and a 1.7 percent pay increase in 2006 that is funded by the state.

That increase is also accounted for in the school district’s 2005-2006 budget.

Teachers will receive two additional staff development days that are paid by I-728 money. They will also receive an additional “time, responsibility and incentive day” in the third year of the contract.

Those days provide some supplemental income to compensate teachers for the overtime they put into their jobs.

Szalai said the contract provides an additional $750 per member, per year in supplemental pay.

That pay is in addition to what the state provides in salary. For example, a starting teacher earns $30,982 plus an additional $2,383 in supplemental pay, according to information from the Oak Harbor Education Association.

He said that pay helps attract teachers.

Szalai said the two sides will have to look at supplemental pay in three years. He would like to see an increase that brings Oak Harbor teacher pay in line with other school districts in the region.

In addition to the pay increase, teachers will have more control on how they use their staff development days.

Teachers can form groups and plan their own development, provided plans are approved by principals.

Szalai said the union members are pleased they reached an agreement on their contract.

“We’re very happy and very pleased we were able to settle a contract with a minimum of acrimony,” Szalai said.

He said the union wanted a contract in place because both sides share the goal of trying to pass two upcoming bonds.

One finances construction athletic facilities at the high school. Voters will decide whether to approve that bond in November. The other finances renovation of Oak Harbor High School.

Voters will decide whether to approve that bond next spring.

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