The Blaine County School District board of trustees unanimously approved a contract with the Blaine County Education Association during a special meeting Tuesday evening, clearing the final hurdle for the deal to govern salaries, benefits and working conditions for teachers during the 2019-20 school year.

The BCEA, which serves as the local teachers union, previously ratified the contract by a vote of its members, Co-President Maritt Wolfrom told the Idaho Mountain Express. By press time Thursday, the association had not responded to a request of the final tally.

The agreement allocates an additional $990,000 for salary raises—a 2.36 percent raise spread across the district’s 500-plus employees. That money would bolster the existing rungs of the salary schedule, which determines wages based on education and experience. The district also expects to pay about $825,000 to staff progressing through that schedule next year, according to preliminary budget estimates by district Finance Manager Bryan Fletcher.

For 2019-20, the district also agreed to cover a 6.5 percent increase to health-insurance premiums and the state-mandated 1 percent contribution increase to its public employee retirement fund, called PERSI, together worth about $401,000. That would be funded by a one-time $441,000 payment from the state compensating the district for past underfunding of the so-called career ladder, Fletcher said.

Next year, that obligation would reset, leaving teachers to pay the difference, or renegotiate the terms. By Idaho law, salaries and benefits must be bargained annually. The 2.36 percent raises would be covered by the remainder of those state funds, plus money from a supplemental levy passed in 2018, Fletcher said.

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