Moorestown School District’s latest union contract cleaves to statewide averages in terms of salary increases, and paves the way for future progress on the escalating costs of health care.
Per the terms of the new contract, school district employees will receive a cumulative 7.12 percent salary increase over the next three years: a 1.66 percent increase in year one (effective July 1, 2013); a 2.84 percent increase in year two; and a 2.62 percent increase in the third, and final, year of the contract.
The 7.12 increase is less than the current 7.87 percent average for three-year contracts in Burlington County, and similar to other three-year settlements across the state, which average slightly more than 7 percent.
“I’m happy with the settlement,” said Board Member Kevin O’Sullivan, who, along with several other members of the board’s and union’s negotiating teams, met for nine hours on Labor Day to reach a settlement. He pointed out that the salary increases are only slightly more than those included in the district’s previous three-year deal.
The other critical component of the contract centers around the creation of a joint committee tasked with coming up with a solution to the “healthcare crisis” facing the district, according to a release from the district.
“Our shared crisis centers on the fact that the cost to provide healthcare to our employees will increase more rapidly than our ability to raise taxes,” read the release. “This committee will discuss different plans, structures and coverages and will make written recommendations to the board and the (Moorestown) Education Association’s (MEA) negotiating teams regarding health benefits.”
O’Sullivan said the committee has a “humongous responsibility. I don’t want to downplay it.”
The district would have faced a 16 percent increase to health insurance costs this year had it not switched plans earlier in the year, according to O’Sullivan. Instead, health care increased 5 percent—roughly $1 million in savings.
He said the formation of the committee represents a “big step in collaboration” between the district and the MEA.
“I’m confident the committee’s going to do the right thing,” said O’Sullivan.
The MEA ratified the new contract last week, and the board of education approved it Monday morning before the start of school.
A few other highlights from the contract:
Additional steps will be added to the salary guide in the third year of the contract, which will make it more affordable to the district.
The effective date for the salary increase in the second and third years of the contract have been delayed until later in the school year to improve affordability for the district.
- Staff members eligible for a longevity of service stipend will receive an increase of $100 to $250 as part of the contract.