Manatee school board ends district-teacher impasse

Manatee teachers to pay at least 19-percent increase in insurance premiums

ataylor@bradenton.comJune 8, 2011 

BRADENTON -- Contract talk disputes between school district administrators and teachers union representatives ended Tuesday night after nearly a year of in-fighting.

Manatee County school board members had the final say, voting against at least three issues recommended in April by a special magistrate.

And in a surprise move, board members accepted the Manatee Education Association proposal for employees-only insurance, increasing premiums by 19 percent. Health insurance costs for employees with families will increase in accordance with district officials’ recommendation; the figure was not available at press time.

Bruce Proud, MEA’s business agent, was asked if the revised plan agreed with him.

“I haven’t run the numbers,” he said. “It’s definitely better than the previous proposal.”

Among the three decisions that reversed the magistrate’s recommendations:

n Board members voted against annual “step” or experience-related salary increases for teachers.

“Many districts have already done this. We just want to make the same move,” Superintendent Tim McGonegal told board members.

n Payout for sick leave to retiring employees who have been employed after 25 years will decrease from 100 percent to 50 percent. Manatee will be the only district in the state establishing that procedure.

n And teachers’ constitutional rights will not be established as a part of the annual contract.

The results of those issues were reversals of the recommendations made by magistrate Marsha Murphy, who was paid a little more than $9,100 to resolve the contract talks. She held a two-day hearing in March after district officials and union representatives with the MEA declared an impasse in mid-January, halting contract talks after about six months.

District officials had rejected six of Murphy’s recommendations, including issues involving annual “step” or experience-related increases, the pay-out of sick pay benefits and the highly contested increase for higher insurance premiums. Manatee Education Association’s representatives had rejected one of Murphy’s recommendations -- the one regarding health insurance premiums.

The board’s votes Tuesday night drew more than 200 teachers, principals and teachers’ aides to the district office. The meeting ended about 10 p.m.

District officials have also declared an impasse against the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents food service, transportation, custodial and maintenance workers. The hearing was held in April by a magistrate. However, no recommendations from the magistrate have been announced.

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