A three-year contract between the Board of Education and teachers will hold down costs and bolster instructional time for students.
The deal offers teachers a 1.9 percent salary hike in the first year following by 2.5 percent annual increases in the remaining two years of the pact.
Local 1464 members also agreed to pay more of the tab for their health insurance, rising to 14 percent of the overall cost in 2011.
“It’s fair to both parties,” said school Superintendent Philip Streifer.
Had the contract matched the 3 percent raises secured by most city workers, taxpayers would have had to shell out nearly $2 million a year extra, particularly given that the union agreed for delay any “step increases” for longevity for 18 months.
Streifer said the teachers also agreed to an extra 10 minutes of instructional time each day, which will lead to 30 extra hours in the classroom.
What the deal means is that the schools won’t face quite as big a hardship as officials feared because of sinking aid and rising costs.
Though it’s still unclear how the Board of Education ad the city will deal with the looming cash crunch next year, holding the line on pay hikes makes it less likely there will be layoffs.
City Councilor Ken Cockayne, a first-term Republican, hailed the agreement, offering his thanks to teachers for “forgoing huge raises” and agreeing to pay more for their health care.
“Our teachers, their union and the negotiating team for the Board of Education demonstrated their sensitivity by agreeing in these difficult economic times, to a minimal salary increase,” Cockayne said.
“The Bristol tax payers cannot afford to pay any more than they already are,” Cockayne said.
Cockayne took a shot at Democratic Mayor Art Ward as well, pointing out the mayor recently cut a deal with City Hall workers that gave them 3 percent raises while securing a 4 percent cost-sharing for health benefits.
That deal was approved by the City Council last week, with only Cockayne voting against it.
In June, the police union got a four-year retroactive pact that gave its members a 3-percent raise for 2007, 3.25-percent for 2008 and 3.5-percent in each of the final two years of the contract.
The contract also increased the share of health insurance costs paid by officers from the current 5 percent to 8.5 percent by 2010.
That’s the highest figure that any city union outside the school system has yet agreed to cough up.
A three-year union pact reached last year between the city and the Bristol Professionals and Supervisors Association delivered its 54 members a 9.3 percent pay hike and required workers to cough up a 7.5 percent co-payment for their medical coverage.
I'll have more details on the contract posted here sometime Wednesday.
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