by ALEXANDRA RETTER
The Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) district and the Winona Education Association (WEA) teacher’s union are in the process of negotiating the latest teacher contract. A one-percent salary increase is being considered for most steps of the salary schedule, and discussions of insurance coverage are ongoing.
A one-percent increase for 2019-2020 would equate to about $580,000, according to WAPS Superintendent Annette Freiheit and Board Chair Nancy Denzer. At a December 3 meeting, WEA proposed the addition of a top step at a two-and-one-quarter percent increase to the current top step as well.
WEA and WAPS continue to negotiate in regard to health and hospitalization insurance for 2020-2021 which would be effective January 1, 2021. At the December 3 meeting, the district proposed that it would contribute $12,000 maximum annually toward premiums for those enrolled in a district group single coverage plan. The WAPS Negotiating Committee also proposed that the district would contribute $12,000 maximum annually toward premiums for those enrolled in a district-sponsored group family plan.
Additionally, the district proposed that for those who take part in the district’s high-deductible plans, gain a health savings account (HSA) and enroll in a district group single coverage plan, the district would deposit $2,200 into HSAs under the $2,200 deductible plan and $3,000 for the $3,000 deductible plan. The district proposed that for those who enroll in a district group family plan, it would deposit $2,200 into the HSAs under the $2,200 deductible plan and $3,000 for the $3,000 deductible plan as well.
Linda Pfeilsticker, WEA lead negotiator and Winona Senior High School social studies teacher, said the entirety of insurance premiums have been paid under the current contract and past contracts for those enrolled in a single insurance plan from the district. The district’s current insurance proposal would limit the amount the district contributes to a single plan premium, she said. At the December 3 meeting, she said she appreciated the effort the district put forth in changing the insurance proposal from a November 12 proposal.
In the November 12 insurance proposal, the district proposed that it would contribute $8,600 maximum annually toward premiums for those enrolled in a district group single coverage plan. It also proposed that it would contribute $11,300 maximum annually toward premiums for those enrolled in a district-sponsored group family plan. Its proposed contributions to HSAs were less in November as well.
At the December 3 meeting, WAPS and WEA also agreed to a retroactive step/lane increase for 2019-2020, in addition to the elimination of step four of the salary schedule and the movement of teachers who are eligible to go from step four to step six.
WAPS and WEA have concurred on a $1,500 career-increment raise after the completion of 24 years of service, the carryover of one personal day to the following year and a retirement incentive for part-time teachers for 2019-2020 as well.
There is not a retirement incentive in place currently for part-time teachers, Freiheit and Denzer said. They noted that the district proposed the incentive in response to a WEA proposal requesting it.
Negotiations will resume on December 12.