The Wauwatosa School District has reached an agreement with its final union group negotiating a new contract. It's a move Superintendent Phil Ertl said was integral to the district being able to present a balanced budget for 2011-12.
The School Board on Monday approved the agreement with the Wauwatosa Educational Support Association - the group representing the district's administrative assistants - on a 6-0 vote. Board member Anne Fee was excused from the meeting.
Wauwatosa earlier had reached interim agreements with its teachers union and the unions representing its educational assistants and janitors to help bridge a $6.5 million budget deficit for 2011-12. The agreements with those groups include a pay freeze for the next school year, a shift in retirement contributions from the district to employees and participation in a high-deductible health care plan.
The deal with the administrative assistants includes those same provisions, but reaching the agreement proved more contentious than with the other groups. As the administrative assistants' contract runs through the 2012-13 school year, they did not have to agree to any concessions, board member Mary Jo Randall said.
However, in an effort to gain the concessions, the district said it would furlough employees for 20 to 24 days or outsource their work entirely. The union filed a grievance, and the two sides eventually agreed on the concessions.
In exchange for the pay freeze, retirement contribution and participation in the new health care plan, the district agreed not to impose any furlough days, lay off employees or outsource administrative assistants' work in 2011-12. The district also agreed not to outsource any employees' work in 2012-13.
Ertl said the concessions from the administrative assistants - and all the district's employees - made it possible for Wauwatosa to present a balanced budget despite huge cuts in taxing authority proposed in the state's 2011-13 biennial budget.
All of the district's nonrepresented employees, including those in the administrative office and principals at the schools, also agreed to a pay freeze, retirement contribution and participation in the high-deductible health plan, Ertl said.
Randall said she is impressed with the sacrifices made by the district staff members to help Wauwatosa during an unprecedented financial crunch.
"I don't think you can say enough about our employees, about our leadership," she said. "I think we're really fortunate."
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