Amherst, NH – The Amherst School Board (“Board”) and the Amherst Education Association (“AEA”) are pleased to announce they have reached agreement on a four- year collective bargaining agreement effective July 1, 2018, subject to approval of cost items by Amherst voters this March.
Amherst PreK-8 teachers have been working under an expired agreement for two years, and this four-year agreement provides stability for teachers, the Amherst School District and taxpayers, allowing all stakeholders to better plan for the future.
To balance the needs of teachers and taxpayers, concessions were made on health insurance with the greatest concessions coming from the costliest health plan. The health insurance cost sharing arrangement will shift more of the premiums towards teachers each year, with the costliest plan shifting at a higher rate than less expensive plans – essentially, teachers who choose the more expensive plan will pay more for that plan.
The new agreement also addresses Board and AEA concerns about retirement. A scaled approach to limit the District’s long-term retirement obligations will ultimately eliminate costs associated with Section 14.4 of the previous agreement. Over time, the retirement model will shift away from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, yielding significant savings for the District.
Teachers who have not been paid according to experience for the past two years due to an expired collective bargaining agreement will have their experience steps corrected over the first two years of the agreement in exchange for a 0% cost of living adjustment during those two years, followed by two years of a step plus a 2% cost of living adjustment. Teachers at the top of the salary scale who did not receive cost of living adjustments in four of the previous five years will see increases of 3% in the first two years and 2.8% in the second two years of the agreement.
This agreement affirms the commitment of the Board and the AEA to providing educators with the development, resources and support needed to ensure the success of every student. This also means attracting, developing and retaining quality educators and staff who share our commitment to excellence in teaching as outlined in the SAU 39 Strategic Plan, and retaining Amherst’s ability to ensure that every teacher in the classroom is qualified, caring and committed.
Throughout the past few months, negotiations have been productive, with the Board and AEA able to reach mutual goals through a collaborative process. Both teachers and Board members alike are deeply committed to providing Amherst students with a high-quality education and allowing every student to succeed. The Board and AEA believe this new agreement will help achieve these goals while remaining fiscally responsible.
The tentative agreement reached by Board and AEA negotiating teams in December has already been ratified by teachers and the full school board, and will be presented to voters for approval as part of the Amherst School District budget process for the 2018-2019 school year.