VANDALIA — Describing it as “an agreement of firsts,” the Vandalia-Butler Board of Education approved a new master contract with teachers and staff on Tuesday evening.
The Master Agreement between the Board of Education and the Vandalia-Butler Education Association (VBEA) runs for three years through June 30, 2020.
The Vandalia Drummer News has received a copy of the approved Master Agreement but analysis was not possible before the deadline for this print edition. More details will be provided on our website at vandaliadrummernews.com.
The Board of Education approved the contract unanimously on a 4-0 vote. Board Member Rodney Washburn was not in attendance.
The contract was ratified by the VBEA on Tuesday afternoon with 166 votes in favor and just three against – a 98 percent approval rate.
“I’ve never negotiated a contract with that level of support,” said Jeff Mesko, one of the negotiators for the teacher’s union. “What we have come up with is a great contract – great for our community, great for our kids.”
Mesko explained that every article in the contract was reviewed – a first for the district. That reduced the size of the document by over 10 pages.
“There are some firsts in this negotiated agreement,” said Mesko. “It us the first time we’ve gone through the entire contract and looked at every article. A lot of times we weren’t totally happy with everything in there, but agreed it was the best thing for kids.”
Superintendent Brad Neavin said that the contract is fiscally conservative and praised the VBEA for understanding fiscal realities.
“The disaster of the financial situation of a few years ago means the association gets it – they understand there is a bottom line,” said Neavin. “They recognize the value of having solid teachers in the district. We also have a board that means they have to pay their teachers a competitive salary.”
“This was a great process with a lot of firsts,” said Treasurer Eric Beavers. “It’s a kid-centered contract. It falls in line with the strategic plan. We have a great family here and I enjoyed spending time with everyone on the team. It is a win-win for everybody.”
Melissa Gonet, a teacher at Butler High School who helped negotiate the contract, said it was the first time the VBEA had chosen to speak to the Board of Education prior to its approval of a Master Agreement.
“We came here to show our solidarity for working with Brad (Neavin) and Eric (Beavers),” said Gonet. “It was a landmark year, and we have been negotiating a very long time. There is a lot of truth that gets told in those meetings. We are proud of this agreement and want to show our support for this Administration.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.