The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022

VWCS board, teachers ink new contract

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Van Wert City Board of Education has approved a new three-year contract with teachers that both sides said was a fair one, considering the current economic times.

“Our teachers have just been wonderful,” Superintendent Ken Amstutz said. “They understand; they get what we’re up against, as a district … as a community … they understand that.”

Chuck Rollins, president of the Van Wert Federation Teachers, also said he felt the new agreement was fair, adding that he was pleased this year’s negotiations were amicable. He also commended the board of education for its stance on contract talks.

“The last thing we wanted to do was get into a long, drawn-out argument over where we should be contractually speaking,” Rollins noted. “We wanted to stay positive (and) refocus our energy on where it’s supposed to be: kids in the community and getting them ready for the future.

“What we really appreciated was the board’s willingness to look at our requests and to really  meet us with a deal that we think was fair,” Rollins said. “We tried to lower our sights in what we thought, considering our financial picture, where we’re at in the district.”

Both the board and VWFT unanimously approved the new three-year contract, which runs through the 2013-2014 school year.

Under the new agreement, teachers will receive a 1-percent increase in the first year of the contract, but only a half-step increase for seniority purposes, with a 1-percent pay hike and a return to a full step for seniority in the second year. Negotiations will be reopened in the third year for salary purposes only.

Pay increases for educational attainment remain unchanged, while teachers involved in senior projects will receive a 2-percent stipend for the extra work.

A number of concessions were made by teachers in the area of health insurance, with Amstutz noting that the non-insurance incentive was cut in half – to $6,400 – while teachers will pay 15 percent of their dental insurance costs.

“The teachers worked with us heavily on insurance,” Amstutz said, adding that the board and administration appreciated the cooperation.

The biggest concession, as far as the superintendent was concerned, is the teachers’ agreement that all new hires must take the high-deductible health insurance plan. Amstutz added that the board and administration “sweetened” the incentive for existing teachers to also take the higher deductible plan.

“This will save us money and save our insurance consortium money,” he explained.

Amstutz said he feels the agreement, combined with austerity measures already in place and others planned over the next two years, should allow the district to weather the combination of pending state budget cuts and revenue decreases because of the weakened economy.

“We feel comfortable about where we’re at,” the superintendent said, adding that cost-cutting measures include not replacing three of the 13 teachers who retired this year, as well as cutting two more teaching positions when the new grades 1-5 elementary building is completed and another two positions the following year.

“Everyone’s taking on more of the load, and we’re very appreciative of our teachers for that,” the superintendent said.

Amstutz said the board and administration would now move toward securing a new contract agreement with classified employees, who have no union representation, noting he feels that provisions of that contract would be similar to what teachers are receiving.

POSTED: 06/30/11 at 4:01 am. FILED UNDER: News