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Board of Education Approves New Three-Year Contract with Teaching Staff

Solon Board of Education Approves New Three-Year Contract for Teaching Staff

The Solon Board of Education June 6 approved a new three-year negotiated agreement with the Solon Schools’ teaching staff. The contract begins September 1, 2022, and runs through August 31, 2025. 

“This agreement is fiscally responsible to our community and honors the hard work and dedication of our teachers,” said Superintendent Fred Bolden. “We set the bar high for our teaching staff and they continue to meet the challenge. Our teachers worked with heart, tenacity and flexibility to support our students and move their learning forward during the pandemic.” 

Under the agreement ratified by the Solon Education Association 304-1, teachers will receive 2.5 percent base salary increases each year of the contract. All other existing cash payments, bonuses or incentives remain the same in this contract.  

The most significant change in this contract compared to previous agreements is related to employee insurance coverage as the district is moving away from a traditional individual self-insured model to a large consortium, the Stark County Schools Council of Governments insurance program.

The Stark County COG consortium currently includes 58 school districts, six educational service centers, 42 libraries and other government entities with 15,000 employees and 41,000 covered individuals. Leveraging the buying power of the consortium creates significant cost savings for the district while still providing comprehensive health, dental, vision, prescription drug and life insurance coverage. The district’s administrative team and other supervisory employees are covered by the terms of the district’s negotiated agreements.

The shift to the consortium means changes to co-pays and deductibles, including planned increases to deductibles and co-insurance limits in the next few years. The benefit restrictions and reductions – including elimination of primary coverage for Solon employee spouses who have medical insurance available to them through their own employers – that were included in previous contracts remain in place with the new insurance program.

“The move to the consortium marks the out-of-the-box way we approached this negotiated agreement,” Mr. Bolden explained. “There are some increased costs and reductions being shouldered by the staff due to the insurance coverage change, but joining a larger insurance group helps the district’s bottom line regarding employee benefit costs in a significant way.” 

Mr. Bolden and the Board thanked the Solon Education Association for its cooperation and open-mindedness during the negotiation process, which took into account the district’s fiscal accountability and the complexities of school finances.

“To recruit and retain the best and the brightest in the field, our compensation packages need to remain competitive,” said Mr. Bolden. “This contract is responsive to that need while at the same time recognizes the contributions our teachers have made that have positively impacted the long-term financial stability and well-being of the district.”

Specifically, Mr. Bolden referenced the multiple years of salary freezes in the previous three contracts, resulting in zero-percent base increases for six of the last 11 years for the teaching staff and seven of the last 11 years for the administrative team.

“On the heels of the previous agreements, which included multi-year freezes to buffer against the millions of dollars the district is losing from the ongoing state phase out of Tangible Personal Property tax reimbursements, our staff took an additional salary freeze this past year during the height of COVID and the economic uncertainty that accompanied the pandemic,” he added.

Negotiations are ongoing with the local Ohio Association of Public School Employees, which represents the district’s classified staff, including custodial, maintenance, media aides, transportation, food service, information technology and secretarial.