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Chelsea School District teachers have new contract

By Crystal Hayduk

Following a special board meeting on Nov. 5, Chelsea School District teachers have a two-year contract. The contract is effective Nov. 6 through June 2020.

The Chelsea School District (CSD) Board of Education and the teachers’ bargaining unit, the Chelsea Education Association (CEA) reached a tentative agreement on Oct. 30. Members of the CEA had until 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 to cast their vote.

Only minutes after the CEA’s official notice of the ratification, the board of education met, going into closed session for final review and questions regarding the contract. Following discussion, Board President Anne Mann re-opened the meeting for board members to vote publicly on the contract.

Dana Durst made the motion to approve the contract, Laura Bush seconded it. With board member Tammy Lehman absent, the contract was ratified with a vote of 4-0. Board members Greg Rhodes and Anne Mann abstained from voting due to conflicts of interest.

Compensation highlights of the first year of the new contract include advancing steps and lanes, an increase of 1.5% at all steps, the addition of step 15 that is 2% higher than step 14, and removal of step zero, which will move to step one.

Also, the district will increase their health insurance hard cap contribution by 12% in 2019.

In the second year, compensation highlights include advancing steps and lanes, an increase of 1.1% on scale, with the addition of a step 16 that is 2% higher than step 15. The district will increase their health insurance hard cap contribution to equal the state hard cap increase plus 3%, not to exceed 5% total.

Chelsea School District teachers had been working under the terms of an expired contract since July 1, 2018. Financial compensation was the primary point of contention during recent negotiations. Both sides had filed for fact finding, but no hearing had been scheduled prior to reaching the tentative agreement.

The CEA wrote in a press release, “This process began more than a year ago, with the first meetings between the CEA and CSD lead negotiators happening in October 2017. After tireless work by the union bargainers and the support of the larger Chelsea community, the teachers appreciate the board’s willingness to return to the table to get an agreement before a fact-finding hearing had to begin.” 

CEA President Rick Catherman said in a written statement, “I’m proud of the work that the Chelsea Education Association did in reaching this new agreement for our members, and we look forward to continuing to work with our school board and administration in providing the very best education for the children in our community.”

Superintendent Julie Helber said in a written statement, “We are extremely happy to have come to an agreement for our teachers and look forward to our continued work together on behalf of our students.”

It’s expected that the contract will be available on the school district’s website in the near future.

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