PIEDMONT -- The Piedmont school board has approved in principle the new contract with the Association of Piedmont Teachers that goes into effect July 1 through June 30, 2014.
Ninety percent of the bargaining membership voted to approve, Superintendent Connie Hubbard said at the June 12 board meeting. The Alameda County Office of Education must also review and approve the new contract. Its terms will be incorporated into the new budget and presented for final approval at the June 26 board meeting.
There were no salary increases in the new contract; step and column increases continue, however.
The district agreed to increase its share of health and dental coverage as of Oct. 1 for an annual cost of $201,111. It will increase its contribution toward retiree benefits in 2013-14 only for a one-time cost of $33,500. It is adding two professional development teacher days on Oct. 14 and Jan. 6 for a one-time cost of $138,332. Funds for that will come from the state for common core standards. Earlier, parents clubs and the education foundation "bought back" two furlough days for teachers. Trustee Ray Gadbois expressed some concern over the agreement, while supporting it.
"We need to be careful with spending, we're still in a deficit. We are not out of the woods," Gadbois said.
"I'm happy there were no layoffs and appreciate the efforts and sacrifices of the teachers. But I'm concerned with the increases to medical and retirement benefits."
Speaker Jon Elliott suggested that in the future, the district look to different ways to manage health benefits for more cost savings. The board approved moving forward with technology upgrades at Piedmont High School, Piedmont Middle and Millennium High for close to $1 million using state "modernization" funds. The funds cannot be used for salaries or programs, Hubbard noted. The project consists of installing a centrally managed Wi-Fi network, switching equipment, server infrastructure and wiring and cables, some of which will be done over the summer.
They authorized the sale of general obligation bonds for $12 million and $18 million to restructure debt service and realize savings to Piedmont taxpayers.
"It's a cost-effective solution, kind of like refinancing your house to save on interest payments," Hubbard explained.
Twelve retiring employees were thanked and recognized for their years of dedicated service to the students and district. They were: Christine Alpers, Pam Brandau, Jeanne Donovan, Shami Edun, Leslie Flegel, Don James, Rich Kitchens, Janet Labberton, Jan Lewis, Harlan Mohagen, Nancy Parker and Susan Pinarcik.