Teachers quick to accept new packageWith both sides obviously aware that money is extremely tight this year, teachers and the Mountain View Whisman School District reached a quick and sensible agreement on a contract that for the first time will require teachers to pay a portion of their health care benefit.
Trustees on Nov. 3 approved the deal, which also includes a 1 percent pay increase and mandates that the district pay for more than half — but not all, as in prior years — of any increase in health insurance costs for teachers next year.
Negotiations took only two days and both sides credited the willingness to compromise as the primary reason for success. The stage was set for the health care deal last year, when the teachers received a 3 percent raise and a bonus, but agreed to shoulder part of the health care premium this year.
The salary increase and health care contribution will cost the district $247,000 for the year, according to Superintendent Craig Goldman, who said it is still possible that the elementary district could lose $1.3 million in state funds. Given the budgetary pressure on local districts, it is welcome news that the precedent has been set for teachers to begin paying a fair share of their health care benefits. It is important that the district has shown a willingness to award teachers pay increases, even during these challenging times. But it is also important that teachers take on part of the huge cost increases for health insurance.