By KEVIN HOWELL
BELOIT- The West Branch school board Thursday night officially implemented a new two-year contract for the district teachers.
The board approved a resolution imposing a successor collective bargaining agreement with the West Branch Education Association (WBEA), effective July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2014.
The board implemented the contract over the weekend after the two sides failed to reach an agreement after over a year of negotiations. The prior collective bargaining agreement expired July 1 and the teachers have started the school year under literal interpretation of the contract, working just the hours required in the contract.
According to Superintendent Dr. Scott Weingart, the board's "last, best and final offer" asks teachers to pay more each month toward the cost of health insurance, but freezes the amount of employee contributions for the next two years. The offer also provides a modest pay increase for eligible employees in the second year as well as additional compensation for advanced education and a financial incentive for outstanding attendance.
Weingart noted following the meeting that the contract dispute has not affected the students' education so far.
"It really is business as usual," he said. "The kids are most important to everybody and what happens between the adults is left outside the classroom."
Kevin Howell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org