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updated: 8/16/2011 4:21 PM

Cary school board imposes 'last-best' offer for teachers

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Teachers in Cary Elementary District 26 will begin the 2011-2012 school year under the terms of the final contract offer from the school board.

After six months, 17 meetings and eight official offers, the district will impose its last-best offer when teachers return to school Aug. 24.

"This will mean the teachers will start the new school year working under the terms of the board's last-best contract offer," according to a news release from the district.

In a response, the teachers union said the latest announcement is evidence that the district refuses to continue to negotiate with the teachers.

"The teachers are aware of the district's 'dramatic and severe financial crisis' as stated by the board and were willing and continue to be willing to make dramatic concessions," a news statement from the union said. "However, the concessions the board is imposing upon this small group of teachers is unreasonable."

In June, the school board declared the sides were at an impasse with the main unresolved issues of salary, insurance, retirement benefits and the length of a teachers' school day.

The district's final proposal calls for a two-year contract that includes a new compensation structure that it says will maintain an acceptable educational program while balancing the budget.

The board's proposal includes a salary rollback to 2008-2009 levels, which would amount to an average salary decrease of 1.7 percent in the first year and a 2.6 percent increase in the second year.

The district would continue paying the 6-percent end-of-career salary increases.

In addition, the board proposed eliminating the $20,000 retirees receive immediately after retiring, as well as the $10 per day of sick leave the teacher had not used. These benefits were expected to cost the district about $1.1 million the next four years.

Furthermore, the board and union could not agree on insurance. The union asked the board to pay 85 percent of single health care and 100 percent of dental premiums both years, estimating an annual district savings of $152,280.

Instead of a percentage paid toward premiums, the board offered to pay a flat rate of $7,000 in 2011-2012 and $3,000 in 2012-2013 for single or family coverage.