SOUTH RANGE SCHOOLS Board, teachers OK health-care terms

A pay increase for 2004-05 is yet to be determined.
NORTH LIMA -- The South Range Board of Education has entered into a two-year contract with the district's teachers union that will give the school district a 15 percent decrease in health-care premiums.
At the district's board meeting earlier this week, Superintendent Jim Hall explained the contract with the South Range Education Association will allow the district to move from a traditional health-care plan to a preferred-provider program. This will offer acceptable coverage for employees but include managed-care features such as network physicians and hospitals, increased deductibles and co-payments.
The preferred-provider program will be offered through the same self-funded insurance plan the district was using before this contract, Hall said. What's changed is the plan's features. The preferred-provider plan is less expensive, which will result in the 15 percent savings, he added.
Hall was uncertain how much the district pays in insurance premiums.
He reported that the board and 84-member union have formed an insurance committee that will look for additional ways to control health-care costs.
Other contract details
The contract, effective Sept. 1, 2003, through Aug. 31, 2005, also calls for the base teacher salary to be $27,093 for the 2003-04 school year, a 3 percent increase over the 2002-03 school year.
The base salary for the 2004-05 school year will be either $27,770, an increase of 2.5 percent over the 2003-04 school year, or $27,906, an increase of 3 percent.
The final base salary for 2004-05 will be determined by the amount of money the school district receives from the state, Hall said.
He was uncertain at this time how much the raises will cost the district over the contract's life.
Reading from a prepared statement, Hall explained: "Because of the uncertainty of the funding of schools in Ohio, the ... [union] and the [school] board have agreed on only a two-year contract in spite of the fact that both parties would have liked to have been able to form a three-year contract." The school board typically adopts three-year contracts with the union.
In other news, the school board adopted the 2003-04 calendar calling for school to start Sept. 3. The last day will be June 10, 2004, with commencement scheduled for June 12.