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Pittsfield voters approve budget, teachers’ contract

Teachers in the Pittsfield School District will have access to dental insurance next year for the first time, after voters approved a new three-year contract last night.

The contract doesn’t raise salaries next year, but provides dental insurance and requires the teachers to pay more of the cost of their health insurance premiums each year, said school board member Bea Douglas.

Salaries are scheduled to increase 1.5 percent in the 2015-16 school year and again 1.5 percent in the 2016-17 school year, according to the contract.

Teachers are expected to contribute 10 percent to the cost of dental insurance premiums next year, 15 percent in 2015-16 and 20 percent in 2016-17.

They are also expected to pay 7 percent of the cost of their health insurance premiums next year, up from 6 percent this year. In 2015-16, they will pay 8 percent and 9 percent in 2016-17.

“Everyone gave a little to get to an agreement on this,” Douglas said. “It’s been a win-win. It’s the first time in a long time we’ve had a multiyear contract, and we’re all happy about not having to negotiate again next year. It’s very time-consuming.”

The 56 voters who attended last night’s school district meeting consumed very little time, working through the contract and the budget and moving $150,000 of any potential end-of-year surplus into savings accounts in about 40 minutes. They represented about 2 percent of registered voters in town.

The budget for next year is set at $9.41 million, down $32,744 from the current budget. The decrease, however, brings the tax rate down enough to accommodate the $114,000 increase in spending in the first year of the teachers’ contract.

Dan Schroth, wearing a blue Pittsfield Citizen of the Year shirt he received in July, was one of only two members of the public to speak during the meeting.

“You’ve got to reward success, and the school and the teachers have been successful,” Schroth said before advocating in favor of the contract.

“At the same time, you’ve got to protect the taxpayers. In the next two years, you’ve got to do everything you can to protect the taxpayers,” he added.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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