Fairfield teachers approve contract with pay freeze

Teachers in the Fairfield City School District have ratified a new three-year contract that includes a pay freeze for three years, including both base pay as well as step increases for length of service.

"We understand the financial situation that the school district is facing, and we're going to do our part to help," said Tim Adams, the Fairfield Intermediate School science teacher who serves as president of the Fairfield Classroom Teachers Association.

The Fairfield Board of Education has scheduled a vote at its June 16 meeting on the tentative agreement. Nancy Lane, the school district treasurer, estimated that the agreement will save the district about $2.2 million over three years.

Jerome Kearns, president of the Fairfield Board of Education, said he appreciated the teachers' action. "Our teachers do a wonderful job. We know that they're facing the same rising prices at the gas pumps and the food store that everyone else is, and they have still come through and agreed to a contract that represents a multi-million dollar savings for the school district."

The tentative agreement also calls for teachers to begin paying more for their health insurance plans. In January of 2012 teachers will begin paying 10 percent of the cost of their dental coverage. The following year they will also begin to pay 20 percent of the cost of their medical coverage, up from 15 percent.

The contract marks the first time that both base pay and step increases have been frozen. Step increases are pay raises given to eligible teachers who have reached designated milestones in length of service. Teachers will continue to be eligible for a pay increase based upon additional educational attainments.

The Fairfield school board has been discussing placing an operating levy on the November ballot. Mr. Kearns said that the agreement probably won't remove the need for a levy, as the district has not had an operating levy in seven years, but could potentially make the size of any ballot issue smaller.

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