This article updates an earlier story we published last week with details on contract points.

The Wilton Board of Education (BOE) and Wilton Education Association (WEA – the union representing Wilton’s teachers) announced at last Thursday night’s board meeting (Nov. 10) that they successfully reached an agreement on a new teachers’ union contract. In doing so, officials say they were able to avoid going to arbitration.

Among the contract highlights:  teachers will receive a three-year projected overall uncompounded salary increase of almost 9-percent; the district will recoup savings in several categories and secured a concession on tuition for some out-of-district children of teachers.

In a statement sent to GOOD Morning Wilton immediately following Thursday’s meeting by Maria Coleman, the district’s director of human resources and general administration, she wrote that the contract agreement was reached “by focusing on what is best for students and teachers.”

“After a series of collaborative and in-depth meetings where both parties explored and evaluated the views and needs of students, educators, families, taxpayers, and town leaders, the BOE and WEA forged an agreement that they believe will help make the Wilton Public Schools and the Town of Wilton stronger.

“’We are pleased to come to a successful conclusion of the contract negotiations process,’ said Andrew Nicsaji, WEA president and Middlebrook math teacher. ‘It became apparent as the process unfolded that both parties wanted to try to do what is best for students and teachers, and I believe that goal rings true in the agreement that was struck.’

“’We are thrilled to have successfully concluded the teachers’ union negotiations process,’ said Bruce Likly, Wilton BOE chair. ‘We could not have done so without the collaboration, professionalism, and support of the WEA and its leadership. Wilton’s teachers are truly remarkable; they are the backbone of our town’s greatest asset – our schools.’

The yearly breakdown of the three-year, 8.98-percent projected overall uncompounded salary increase is scheduled as follows:

  • 2017-2018  2.96-percent increase
  • 2018-2019   3.06-percent increase
  • 2019-2020  2.96-percent increase

According to district administrators, this increase is below the DRG average for districts that have settled their contracts in the past two years, but still keeps salaries competitive.

To offset the cost of the increase, the BOE negotiated savings in the cost of health benefits.

  • The High Deductible Health Savings Plan will increase the deductible for teachers from $2,000 per person or $4,000 per family in 2017-2018 to $2,250 per person and $4,500 per family in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. Administrators say this will save the district approximately $134,000.
  • The prescription drug plan will increase copay amounts, resulting in a savings to the Town of approximately $43,000 per year for three years.
  • Employee contributions for healthcare coverage will increase
    • 2017-2018:  16-percent employee contribution (No change from current contract)
    • 2018-2019:  17-percent employee contribution (A savings of approximately $58,000)
    • 2019-2020:  18-percent employee contribution (A savings of approximately $58,000)

There was a concession made by the union in one area that has attracted scrutiny from some residents during past budget cycles–the question of whether teachers who reside out-of-district can enroll their children in Wilton schools tuition-free. Currently, teachers’ children are able to attend school in Wilton free of charge, provided that class size permits it. This new three-year contract will reflect a change from past policy:  Wilton teachers hired for the 2017-2018 school year and after will be charged 30-percent of the cost of tuition for their children to enroll in the Wilton Public Schools.

Teachers did receive an increase in one particular area–tuition reimbursement, which increased from $110 to $150 at the master’s level and from $220 to $250 per credit for those pursuing degrees beyond their first master’s degree.

Update, Tuesday, Nov. 15–Maria Coleman sent a press release clarifying earlier remarks she had emailed to GMW. We are reprinting them in their entirety:

 “The new teachers’ contract has many components. It is important to note that the impact of this new agreement on the District’s overall budget is offset by concessions in healthcare benefits, retirements, and other savings negotiated in the contract.

The annual general wage increases (GWI) approved in this contract are as follows:

  •   2017-18 GWI for those on steps is 0.5% and 1.5% for those already at the maximum step
  •   2018-19 GWI for those on steps is 0.0% and 1.75% for those already at the maximum step
  •   2019-20 GWI for those on steps is .58% and 1.9% for those already at the maximum step

For those who are not familiar with steps, the step process refers to a teacher’s progression through a salary grid based on years of experience.