WESTFIELD TWP. — The Cloverleaf Education Association and school board have reached a contract agreement that freezes salaries and increases employee health care payments in an effort to offset a projected $2.5 million deficit at the end of the 2011-12 school year.
Teachers and the board began negotiating before the union’s previous contract expired in June 2010, Superintendent Daryl Kubilus said.
“I am extremely grateful to our teachers and their leadership for understanding the financial condition of our district and agreeing to these concessions,” he said in a statement. “Through their actions, they have (shown) a genuine interest in the financial future of our district.”
There are 160 teachers in Cloverleaf Schools.
Overall, the concessions are expected to save the district $700,000 next year, bringing down the projected deficit to about $1.8 million, Kubilus said Wednesday.
The one-year contract calls for a zero percent base salary increase and a freeze on step increases, cutting the budget by $300,000. Additionally, $400,000 will be saved by teachers paying 15 percent of their health care premiums, he said.
CEA President Rebecca Sovchik said there was not a specific issue that held up the negotiations, but she was glad to see them come to a conclusion.
“The concessions that we made ultimately are in the best interest of the district and therefore directly benefit our students,” she said. “They are never easy, but considering the financial times we are living in, it’s really in the best interest of what we do every day in the classroom to understand the financial situation and do whatever we can to benefit our students.”
Board President Mike Schmidt said residents in a recent community survey wanted the district to address staff salaries and benefits.
Cloverleaf has been on the state’s fiscal watch radar for seven years. Schmidt said the board plans to put a levy on the November ballot.
In November last year, 66 percent of voters turned down a 5.9-mill emergency operating levy that would have brought in about $2.8 million annually.
In the past three years, the district cut its budget by $4 million by laying off 58 staff member, and eliminating some extracurricular activities as well as most freshman sports and coaching positions.
Other financial decisions included increasing pay-to-participate fees by 25 percent for the 2011-12 school year.
School administrators also agreed to take pay freezes in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. Like teachers, they will pay 15 percent of their health care premiums.
The district’s support staff union, the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, is in negotiations with the board. Its contract expires June 30, Kubilus said.
Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or email@example.com.