The South Williamsport Area School District and its education association deserve praise for a labor agreement reached this past week.
The agreement runs from 2012 to 2015 and includes 3-percent salary increases each year. That's a fair increase in pay that considers both the monetary needs of teachers while falling in line with reasonable cost-of-living standards during the time frame. Most significantly, the agreement includes a 250-percent increase in insurance contributions from the professional staff.
As district Business Manager Dennis Artley conceded, "insurance is skyrocketing." The increase in what professional staff pay for their health insurance counts as acknowledgement that the district and its taxpayers can no longer pay all of the health insurance costs.
The health insurance payment from professional staff will increase from $30 each pay to $60 the first year, from $60 to $85 the second year and from $85 to $105 the third year.
For perspective, most people working private sector jobs contribute more than even the third year contribution toward health insurance in this agreement. But it's significant that the teachers and district included a rising employee contribution in this contract. Any school district and teacher union in the region that doesn't already have a health insurance payment partnership should be thinking in those terms in the future.