The Moffat County Education Association has reached an agreement with the School Board regarding proposed increases to teacher salaries and benefits. MCEA has ratified the proposal, while the School Board has yet to approve it through a vote.

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The Moffat County Education Association has reached an agreement with the School Board regarding proposed increases to teacher salaries and benefits. MCEA has ratified the proposal, while the School Board has yet to approve it through a vote.

Teachers, school district move closer to agreement

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After nearly a month of negotiations, the Moffat County Education Association and the Moffat County School Board reached a settlement in teacher salary negotiations for fiscal year 2010.

In an MCEA meeting Thursday at Moffat County High School, the group of educators voted unanimously to ratify the proposed salary increases included in the settlement.

The settlement included an increase in salary, contributions to the public pension fund PERA (Public Employee Retirement Association) and heath insurance. Final numbers were not available Thursday.

The school board has not yet voted to ratify the settlement, but MCEA President Michelle Conroy doesn't foresee any difficulties.

"I anticipate that they will vote to ratify," she said.

Conroy said that she was pleased with the way negotiations were handled this year despite the obstacle of the economic recession and difficulties with the state budget.

"Overall, I think we did very well, given the time constraints," Conroy said.

She said that the MCEA and the school board had hoped to finish their negotiations before the school year finished.

However, because the state did not release its budget until the late in the legislative session, the MCEA and the school board did not begin negotiations until May 11, and they did not meet the proposed deadline.

Before school let out, however, all employees were invited to sign an agreement ensuring that they still had a job for the 2009-2010 school year.

Although no educators were left out of that agreement, it did not include the pending salary negotiations.

Conroy said that the annual negotiations for salary and benefits, while always a difficult balancing act, were more uncertain than ever this year because of the economic climate.

"It's important to have a balance between the needs of the students and the needs of the employees," Conroy said. "We have to make sure that the district is financially secure and that our employees are being compensated fairly during these hard times."

She said she was confident that the combined effort of the negotiators met all of these goals this year, as evident by the unanimous vote.

Martha Laliberte, a representative for the MCEA committee, agreed that other MCEA members were happy with the efforts of the negotiation team.

"I think the membership knows what a difficult job it can be, so they appreciate it," she said.

The members of the MCEA committee are educators, so they are aware of what is at stake for their students, as well as themselves.

Conroy said she hopes MCEA and the school district will continue to combine their efforts and act in the best interests of students and employees.

"The MCEA and the school district work very well collaboratively," Conroy said. "And we'd like to continue that."

Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or ninglis@craigdailypress.com

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