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  New Wage Pact Key For Boardman Schools  
  Could Help Save 6.8 Million:   by John Darnell, associate editor   June 30, 2011 Edition  
     Members of the Boardman Education Association, representing all 290 teachers in the Boardman Local School District; and the Boardman Board of Education reached agreement on a three-contract that was ratified by the school board on Monday.
      The contract calls for no wage increases for the next three years.
      Currently teachers in the Boardman Local Schools have been working under a two-year contract that granted no wage increases at the base salary level.
      In addition to the wage freeze, the new contract eliminates the so-called step increase in salary for teachers for the next two years. In the third year of the agreement, the increase can only be given if the district achieves at least 21 of 26 indicators on the state report card.
      The other key feature of the agreement sets a cap on health care costs for the Board of Education at current levels, about $4.1 million annually, as well as establishes an insurance committee that will study future heath care costs.
      Currently the Boardman Board of Education is part of a 57-member Council of Governments based in Stark County that oversees health care premiums for it member districts, including Boardman Local Schools.
      According to Boardman Local School Treasurer Richard Santilli, the new wage pact helps to save the schools some $6.8 million over the life of the contract.
      Supt. Frank Lazzeri said the agreement “helps to insure the solvency of the school district for three more years. Concessions on both side of the aisle are good for our community and good for our school children.”
      Dave Pavlansky, president of the education association, said the new pact is appropriate and was achieved through a cooperative effort.
      “The agreement will help our school district remain in the black based on a five-year levy that was passed in 2003,” Mr. Pavlansky said.
      Currently, the school board pays some $4.1 million on its $52 million annual budget for health care premiums. That payment will not increase over the life of the contract, and if there are such increases, the costs will be borne by the teachers’ union.
      “Our teachers stepped-up to do what is best for the community,” Mr. Pavlansky said, indicating he was pleased with the formation of the health insurance committee.
      “All of us---the school board, teachers, non-certified staff and administration now have a cooperative interest in keeping these costs as low as possible,” Mr. Pavlansky said, acknowledging “If health care costs increase, the burden of that increase shifts to the education association.”
      Prior to the agreement, the Board of Education had been projecting a budget shortfall of upward of $8 million by 2014.
      The school board, its administration and the education association have been addressing the projected shortfall for several years and hope their current funding concerns have now been minimized through a variety of measures.
      In addition to the new wage pact, 27 teaching positions have been eliminated, a retire-rehire program was adopted and an energy saving program in large part funded through state subsidies has been put into place.
      “Since we now have a solid financial forecast through 2013, this will mark the first time in my 39 years in the Boardman Local Schools we will have gone a decade without seeking additional funding,” Supt. Lazzeri said.
      The new contract with the BEA will go into effect on June 30 and extend to June 29, 2014.
      The projected $8 million shortfall in the Boardman Local School budget, despite a variety of rising costs, can also largely be attributed to public funds that are taken away from the district and given to so-called charter schools that are held largely unaccountable for the public tax dollars they receive.
      Also on Monday night, the Boardman Local School Board ratified a new contract with its non-certified staff, members of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, Chapter 334 that also calls for a three-year wage freeze.
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