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Nevis settles contracts with wage freeze

With the clock ticking to the state imposed Jan. 15 settlement deadline, Nevis teachers agreed Monday afternoon to a "frozen" salary schedule with step and lane increases.

The teachers' salary schedule will remain the same as the one in place for 2008-09 with the addition of the statement, "A teacher who is not eligible for a step increase will be paid a $500 stipend."

The teachers' hours of service had been a point of contention when the board approved extending the day this year. But the teachers agreed not to amend the language in the contract.

Defined hours of service - seven and three-quarters hours - had been discussed. But requirements calling for teachers to be on duty 30 minutes before students arrive in the morning and 35 minutes after classes will remain the same. Teachers may leave 15 minutes after classes end on the last working day of the week.

The district and teachers also approved maximum contributions for the group health plan.

As an additional cost-saving measure, the board approved a one-year teacher retirement incentive proposal at the meeting.

This is to provide "long term financial savings for the district and provide financial assistance to teachers wishing to retire at the conclusion of the 2009-10 school year.

"Due to concerns over a budget shortfall for the 2010-11 school year, the district will be implementing a variety of budget reduction measures which will include consideration of staff layoffs," superintendent Steve Rassier stated in a memo.

Teachers who've been employed by the district seven consecutive years would be eligible to retire and be paid an amount equal to 65 percent of their 2009-10 salary. The funds would be deposited in a health care savings plan over a five-year period.

The letter of resignation must be received by the last teacher workday in February. The board is reserving the right of approval for the applications.