The Montgomery County Board of Education today (March 11, 2014) approved new contracts with the three associations that represent more than 22,000 Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) employees. Over the past month, the three-year contracts were overwhelmingly ratified by the members of the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 500, and the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP).
The contracts go into effect beginning in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 and provide employees with salary increases, implement a new program to attract highly effective teachers to high-needs schools, and increase the share employees pay for health insurance.
“These are fair contracts that recognize the outstanding work of our employees and our fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers of Montgomery County,” said Board of Education President Philip Kauffman. “I want to thank everyone who was involved in these negotiations and congratulate them for their excellent work.”
“The collaborative relationship between MCPS and its employees is reflected in these contracts,” said Superintendent Joshua P. Starr. “Even during lengthy, difficult negotiations, the focus of our employees remained squarely on the needs of students and how we can better serve them today and in the future.”
Tentative agreements were reached on the contracts last month and were then sent to the membership of the three associations for ratification. The contracts were approved by more than 90 percent of the employees who cast ballots.
The contracts call for employees to receive a general wage increase in each of the next three years—1.5 percent in FY 2015 and 2 percent in FY 2016 and FY 2017. Eligible employees will also move up a step on the salary scale in each of the three years. These salary changes will occur on November 29, 2014, October 3, 2015, and September 3, 2016.
The contracts also require employees to pay a greater share of their health insurance premiums. Over the next two years, the amount each employee pays will increase by 7 percentage points. Beginning in 2016, employees will be able to lower their benefit costs if they participate in a voluntary health risk assessment and/or submit the results of a routine blood test. The contracts also call for employees who smoke to pay 3 percent more for their health benefits beginning in 2016. The benefit changes are expected to save about $5 million in FY 2015 and $18.5 million in FY 2016 and each year thereafter.
The MCEA contract also includes the implementation of the “Career Lattice,” which will allow highly-effective, veteran teachers the opportunity to obtain “lead teacher” status and provides salary supplements if they choose to move to or remain in high-needs schools and take on leadership responsibilities.
“Our teachers work tirelessly on behalf of our students every day and this contract invests in their economic security, while also, through the Career Lattice, providing them an opportunity to become lead teachers and help our students with the greatest needs,” said Doug Prouty, MCEA president.
“Our employees were among the hardest hit by cutbacks during the economic downturn. This contract recognizes the sacrifices they made and their continued excellence in service of all MCPS students,” said Merle Cuttitta, president of SEIU Local 500.
“This contract recognizes the significant contributions of our administrators, principals and supervisors, and all who work on behalf of our students throughout MCPS,” said Debra Mugge, president of MCAAP.
The Montgomery County Board of Education approved a $2.3 billion budget request on Tuesday, February 11, which includes $35.8 million to fund the economic provisions in the contract for FY 2015.