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Teachers receive bonuses, health care premium contributions

Teachers in the Claremont Unified School District are pleased with recent contract negotiations, said Joe Tonan, former faculty union president.

In mid-June, some 99 percent of local educators voted to ratify the new contract, which was approved by the district at the Thursday, July 12 meeting of the CUSD board of education.

The contract, which was revamped in its entirety, included a bit of financial relief in the wake of recent austerities.

Full-time teachers—along with all full-time equivalent district employees—will receive a one-time bonus check of $1800, which is likely to arrive by August 1, said Kevin Ward, assistant superintendent of human resources.

Part-time employees will also receive what the district has termed an “employee compensation adjustment” commensurate with the number of hours they work, he noted. For example, a 40 percent employee would receive 40 percent of the $1800.

The funds are coming from district reserves, which Mr. Tonan says have grown from 9 percent of the general fund to about 20 percent in the last few years. He estimated the dollar amount of the current reserve fund as $10 million, up from $4.5 million. The district accumulated the large reserve in anticipation of further state budget cuts that did not occur, said Mr. Ward.

The compensation may not change any lives, but Mr. Ward said he feels the checks will be welcome, particularly given they are arriving in the summer. The timing couldn’t be better, he said.  

Managing health care premiums

“Over the past number of years, all CUSD staff have experienced the combined effects of no raises, increased employee contribution to health benefits, lack of supplies—which they donate—and increased responsibilities and workload,” Mr. Ward said.

Mr. Ward and Mr. Tonan agreed that, in the face of skyrocketing health insurance costs, medical care has become an increasing burden for faculty members in the past few years.

With this in mind, the district agreed to a one-time, $1800 contribution per fulltime equivalent position to the employee benefit pool for the coming year.

For many years, the district had a basic HMO health plan that completely covered all costs for employees and their families.

About 5 years ago, as health care premiums began to increase, the district requested faculty members pay $10 to $30 in each of 10 monthly paychecks for individual and/or family coverage. During the past school year, family coverage ran about $340 per paycheck.

Assuming the overall district health insurance premiums remain the same next school year, faculty insurance premiums would be more than halved—reduced to $180 per paycheck—thanks to the district’s contribution. This is separate from the one-time bonus to be distributed this August.

The district’s contribution may not go as far as the faculty and district had hoped, Mr. Ward said. Because CUSD is currently in negotiations with insurance carriers, they are hoping these numbers can stay the same. But potential increases always loom.

—Sarah Torribio

storribio@claremont-courier.com

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