Eagle Point School District, union reach tentative contract agreement

The Eagle Point School District apparently won't repeat its acrimonious strike of 2012 anytime soon after the district and its employee union announced a tentative accord on a new three-year contract.

Cost savings in recent years and added money from the state will allow the district to provide increases in employee pay and insurance benefits.

Teachers and other certified employees with the Eagle Point Education Association will receive a 2 percent increase in their salaries in each of the three years. Eligible employees also will receive experience step increases of 3.4 percent per year, he said.

Classified employees will receive an 8 percent increase in their salary over three years, with 4 percent in 2014-2015 and 2 percent in each of the next two years. Eligible employees also will receive step increases of approximately 4.7 percent per year.

"This brings the classified employees into a competitive range with surrounding districts in the Rogue Valley," said Allen Barber, the district's human resources director.

The district will increase by $25 per month its monthly insurance contribution for each association member's health insurance in each of the three years of the agreement. In the final year of the contract, 2016-2017, the district will be contributing up to $1,093 per month toward the cost of each member's insurance, Barber said.

Superintendent Cynda Rickert said the district was able to make the offer to its employees in part because of money added back into the budget by the state and also because of "some really tough decisions" made in leaner years.

Because the district previously opted to cut its budget, but not teaching days, the extra money from the state can now be applied to employee salaries and benefits, rather than to restoring those days, Rickert said.

The district presented its "best proposal" to the association, which in turn presented the general details to its members this week. Those members voiced strong support for its approval, district officials and union members said.

Employees are scheduled to take a formal ratification vote on Dec. 11. The board will meet shortly thereafter to hold its ratification vote, Barber said.

"We're very excited to have a settlement, and to be moving forward in our whole district," said Debbie Brudevold, a math teacher at Eagle Point Middle School.

The new agreement would take effect July 1, 2014. After ratification of the agreement, every bargaining unit member will receive a $150 bonus for working collaboratively and ratifying the agreement so quickly, Barber said.

— Sanne Specht

Read more in Saturday's Mail Tribune.

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