By CRISTINA JANNEY
The Hays school board unanimously voted to approved a contract with teachers at its meeting Monday night.
Teachers have been working under their 2018-19 contract since July 1 after the school board and Hays NEA were unable to come to a contract agreement.
A federal mediator was brought in and the two sides ultimately went to fact finding.
At issue was the district's move from a state-run Blue Cross Blue Shield plan to a plan administered by Aetna. Although the plan saved the district money, teachers complained of higher deductibles and issues with service.
The agreement has the district remaining with Aetna through the end of this contract year, which ends June 30.
The district also has made a move to establish a set amount it will pay toward family insurance plans. The agreement has the district paying the full amount for a single plan, but limiting its payment for dependent and family plans to $1,050 per month starting July 1, 2020.
On salary, the agreement stipulates a $1,900 per year addition to base pay plus horizontal and vertical movement on the salary schedule.
The pay increases will be retroactive to the beginning of the school fiscal year, which was July 1, 2019. The pay adjustments will be on teachers' paychecks as of March.
Teachers voted on the contract on Feb. 5, approving it on a vote of 203-11.
In an email Tuesday morning, Kim Schneweis, Hays NEA president, said, "We are happy to finally come to an agreement for this year's contract."
School board President Mike Walker said Monday night, "I am very happy that we did reach an agreement. It was a long road. I think we made some progress in areas that we will be able to continue into the next round of negotiations.
"I am happy that is over with after our vote today."
The board also approved a 4.9 percent pay increase for classified staff and administrators, which is roughly equal to the raise being received by the teachers.
Keith Hall, interim director of finance, said the percentage of the pay increase for classified staff and administrators was calculated after the agreement was reached with teachers.
Board member Sophia Rose Young said she was initially hesitant to approve the classified/administrator raise Monday night, saying she wanted more time to look at the numbers.
"I haven't seen the percentage yet. I think it is a shock," she said. "I have been seeing it as a number this whole time. Five percent is a nice raise for everyone. I am happy for everyone. I feel good about giving everyone a 5 percent raise."
Young ultimately voted in favor of the pay raise.
Board member Craig Pallister said, "I hope this does not reflect that the classified and administrators don't deserve the same percent raise because I feel strongly that the classified and administrators and the teachers are all a team that work together and we are not trying to single any certain groups out."