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Board of ed approves contract for union

"It turns out that only about 20 percent of the eligible voters took part in the election and only 11 percent approved your budget," Carter wrote. "That's a far cry from 60 percent approving."

Contract negotiations have been ongoing, according to board president James Lytle, and the union had agreed to the conditions of the contract the night before the vote and recommended its approval to the board.

"We've been engaging in negotiations for the last several months, fairly intensely, a lot of issues on the table including some significant health insurance concessions," Lytle said at the meeting. "Important changes allow us to be more flexible with the employees as you gain additional proficiencies in number of different areas. It has been recommended to us by the negotiating team to approve this contract."

District officials said the contract calls for fair salary increases for valued employees and substantial savings in three areas: health insurance costs; improved transportation staffing and routing efficiency; and limitations on worker's compensation costs.

"In particular, the contract calls for a significant increase in employee contributions to health insurance premiums for family coverage," according to a district release. "Additional savings will come with greater staffing efficiency within the transportation department, including a reduction in mid-day bus runs when the district implements full-day kindergarten in 2009-10."

Superintendent Les Loomis, in what was likely his last board meeting, described the health-care concessions in the contract as "incredibly significant."

"Having been involved in negotiations along the way that I think the concessions in the health insurance are incredibly significant because the trend always of the increases in health insurance far outstrips any kind of salary increases," Loomis said. "I think you're going to see continuing significant saving."

District officials are also touting the new provisions in the BCUEA as allowing for greater flexibility in assigning bus drivers, which will lead to more drivers continually maintaining their regular routes. Loomis said the stability will lead to improved safety in the district's transportation program, which he said is already known across the state for its safety and reliability.

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