Teachers in Solon Schools have agreed to salary freezes and higher insurance premiums under a new three-year agreement lauded by school officials as a contract that will "restore stability" to the district's financial picture.
The pay freeze will save the district $5.3 million over the life of the contract while another $3 million will be saved through changes to the employee benefits plan.
Employees will also pay more for health insurance. Premiums will be increased from 10 percent to 13 percent, and out-of-pocket costs will be higher. In addition, spouses of school employees will be required to have their own health coverage provided by their own employer. While the last contract had this clause for new teachers, the policy is now in effect for all teachers.
The agreement was approved by the school board and by the Solon Education Association, which voted 261-18 in favor of the contract.
“This is a ground-breaking agreement that safeguards the longer-term financial security of the district,” said Superintendent Joe Regano. “Our community stepped up in May 2010 when it passed the last levy and now our staff has done the same thing with this agreement. This contract preserves the long-term solvency of the district and enables us to continue doing what we do best and that is providing the highest-quality educational program to Solon students.”
“In 2014, our employees will be making the same amount they are today," he added.
Other features of the agreement include:
- District administrators and non-union staff will also have their pay frozen at the current rate. These employees did not receive any raises this year, so their salaries will be frozen for a total of four years.
- All new teachers will be paid less. Salaries for first-year teachers will be reduced by 6.75 percent.
- The highest-attainable salary for a teacher will be reduced by 2.8 percent. That's for a teacher who has 30 years of experience and attained the most advanced education. School officials say there are only three employees earning that highest salary right now, but more teachers were expected to reach that plateau in the next three years.
- Teachers will be able to make more money if they meet student achievement goals. Teachers already receive a $550 check when the district obtains an "excellent" ranking from the state. In addition to that, staff will also earn a 1 percent performance bonus in the first two years of the contract and a 2 percent bonus in the final year if annual achievement targets are met.
- There will be no need for any "pay to play" with sports and clubs. Solon coaches and club advisers will reduce their supplemental coaching pay rates by 10 percent under this contract.
The school district reached a similar agreement with non-teaching employees last fall that froze pay and changed benefits.