June 18, 2008

Shawnee Pledges 4-Year Teacher Contracts

By Beth L. Jokinen, The Lima News, Ohio

Jun. 18--SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP -- A three-year contract for school employees these days is pretty good, but Shawnee teachers are getting one better.

The school board approved a three-year deal with the Shawnee Education Association on Tuesday, but the two sides are expected to sign a memorandum in the coming months to add another year onto the contract.

Superintendent Paul Nardini said negotiations can be difficult and sometimes become hostile, so not having to go back to the table for another four years is very positive.

"The longer you can get a contract, the better off you are," he said. "And I think it increases morale on the staff."

Teachers will receive a 3 percent raise each of the four years. Officials believe it is feasible for the district to offer the 3 percent.

"Right now our financial situation in the district is very good," Nardini said.

The contract doesn't include any changes in health insurance, with the board continuing to pick up 80 percent of the costs. The board did agree to pay a little more into a flex plan that helps to cover out-ofpocket health expenses.

The union represents about 140 teachers. The two sides began negotiating in March, meeting about 10 times.

The current three-year contract expires at the end of the month, as does the classified employee contract. Nardini said the negotiations haven't begun yet, but will soon.

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