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Pacts with support staff okayed by school board

Contract agreements with support staff were approved by the Ellsworth School Board Monday.

The tentative agreements are with two bargaining groups: secretarial and clerical, and food service and custodial-maintenance. Superintendent Dan Kaler said all employees involved in the two-year pacts are making concessions in health insurance, as premiums have increased significantly.

The secretarial and clerical proposal involves a salary increase of 2.5 percent in 2006-07 and 3.0 percent in 2007-08. The proposal for food service and custodial-maintenance features a salary increase of 3.25 percent in '06-'07 and 3.25 percent in '07-'08.

In health insurance for both groups, the 2006-08 plan calls for a three-tiered prescription plan of $5/$10/$25, a co-pay of $25/$50/$50, a $250/$500 deductible and aggregate coverage of $2,000,000. In 2006-07, the district will pay 95 percent of the health insurance premium and, in 2007-08, the district will pay 94 percent of the premium.

A one-year settlement with non-union employees has been proposed. This includes wage increases of three percent, except market adjustments are being recommended for two technology positions and bus driver compensation is to stay the same in '06-'07 as it was in '05-'06.

Meantime, the proposed 2006-08 contract for administrators offers a salary increase of three percent in '06-'07 and open for '07-'08.

As for health insurance, the 2006-07 proposal is the same as that recommended for secretarial and clerical, and food service and custodial-maintenance, except the district will pay 94 percent of the premium in '06-'07.

In other business Monday:

--A five-year plan for the district was previewed. Kaler said the plan addresses building issues at all facilities, grounds issues at the track, tennis courts and middle school athletic field, plus transportation and technology issues. He suggested the board may want to approach district voters with a referendum covering needs, especially because a $250,000 annual override of the levy cap okayed by voters earlier will expire in 2008-09 and is another consideration. He also suggested board members include the five-year plan in their goal-setting efforts, for which they scheduled a special meeting on Monday, July 24, at 7 p.m.

--A schedule of fees for the 2006-07 school term, presented last month, was approved by the board with two changes: the parking permit fee will be raised to $55 and the adult lunch price will be increased to $3. The board also approved a cell phone policy as presented last month.

--The resignations of Ben Filzen as high school health teacher and Lori Jakes as EHS head cook were accepted.

--Kaler reported Mid-America Acturial Solutions has completed a study about district liability and, like most schools statewide, Ellsworth faces difficult challenges, mainly related to post-retirement liability. The firm recommends the district either make an annual contribution or try a pay-as-you-go plan. The recommendation will be taken under advisement and setting up a trust fund will be considered.

--Improvements to the district's web page were shown during a presentation by Shelley Anderson, computer tech educator at EHS.