HILLSBOROUGH: School contract in sight

Union, school board should hold separate votes this week

By Gene Robbins, Managing Editor
   Both administration and rank-and-file are expected to vote this week on a three-year contract for most of the 1,000 or so Hillsborough school teachers, aides, secretaries, bus drivers and maintenance staff and others.
   The Hillsborough Education Association members will vote Friday, said Daynon Blevins, president. If the HEA ratifies the contract, the Board of Education is expected to vote on it at Monday’s meeting.
   HEA members will vote a simple yes or no by paper ballot at their buildings or work sites.
   Mr. Blevins said the HEA has held building-level meetings since salary guides were distributed, and was holding one last general membership meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 4.
   The contract would be retroactive to July 1 and continue through June 2016.
      Board of Education President Thomas Kinst said at the beginning of Monday’s meeting that an extended session that went past midnight into Oct. 23 resulted in the framework of an agreement.
   Both sides agreed to avoid discussing details, Mr. Kinst said, until the HEA ratifies a pact.
   In comparison to the review period of the last contract drawn in 2010, members asked for more time to assess a proposed settlement, Mr. Blevins said.
   A settlement appears to include changes in the health care benefits plan. The board approved renewal rates from Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield for health and prescription plans for January, but then will enter the state School Employees’ Health Benefit Plan, the board voted in October.
   The HEA declared an impasse in negotiations in May, and the two sides held sessions with a state-appointed mediator in September and October.