The Defiance City Board of Education approved a new labor contract with the Defiance City Education Association (DCEA), as well as a health insurance memorandum of understanding (MOU) and a learning recovery stipend with the association, during its meeting Wednesday.

The board also handled several boilerplate measures and personnel matters (see related story, this page), including the approval of administrative contracts and hiring a new assistant principal at Defiance High School.

Approved by the board was a new three-year labor contract with the DCEA, effective Aug. 15, 2021-Aug. 14, 2024. The contract calls for a 3% wage increase the first year, and a 2.5% increase each in years two and three.

A MOU concerning health care was approved for a high-deductible healthcare plan with a health savings account.

“As the board is very aware, health insurance is a very expensive endeavor, and the teachers were willing to make a change to their health insurance plan that is still a very good plan, but more cost effective to the district,” said superintendent Bob Morton, who explained as part of the agreement, the district will pay $2,000 each year to a health savings account for a family plan, and $1,000 per year per a single health-care plan.

“I’m proud that our negotiations were collaborative, and I’m happy to recommend the increases in the agreement,” said Morton. “We are very satisfied with how it all worked out.”

Lindsay Long, an eighth-grade math teacher and president of the DCEA, was also happy with negotiations.

“I’m very pleased with the agreement, and that we were able to get some positive language changes, as well as salary increases,” said Long. “We were also able to save the district money with concessions on health insurance. The process was very smooth and professional.”

Cheryl Swisher, CFO/treasurer of the district shared that if the district is able to negotiate all employees to the high-deductible health insurance, the potential savings to the district would be $967,552 over five years.

The board went on to approve a learning recovery stipend for members of the DCEA, in which certified employees will receive a one-time stipend for the work that went into getting students up to speed during the 2020-21 school year, following the shut down of school at the end of 2019-20. A 3% stipend will be paid for with federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, totaling $331,137.22.

“With ESSER funds, it’s permissible to pay the teachers a stipend based on kids being out of school 10 weeks in spring 2020, as well as summer,” said Morton. “With kids coming back in the fall, our educators had to do a lot more to get our kids back up to speed. This is a one-time payment, with federal grant dollars. There were a number of factors that went into this to target deficit in students, on top of going to school during pandemic.”

The stipend will be paid in November, when ESSER III funds come available.

Morton shared with the board he was asked by the Defiance Community Cultural Council (DCCC), if the Defiance Community Auditorium could be used as a contingency plan for the Defiance Jazz Festival in the event of rainy weather. The festival is scheduled to take place July 10 at Kingsbury Park.

He went on to share he is looking over district policies to make sure there would be no problems in the case of rain the day of festival. He explained that alcohol is served at the festival, but is not permissible at the auditorium.

Administrative contracts approved include: three-year contracts for Andrew Eckhart, technology coordinator; Matt Carr, Defiance Middle School principal; and Mark Weidenhamer, transportation supervisor. Two-year contracts approved included: Jerry Buti, athletic director; and John Mayes, director of operations.

Brandon Fisher was approved as the new Defiance High School assistant principal on a two-year contract, effective Aug. 1. He replaces Joe Pennington, who resigned from the position in May, effective July 31. Fisher, who taught in the district previously, was in attendance Wednesday evening with his family.

“I really appreciate the opportunity, and it’s great to be back, I really missed it here,” said Fisher. “It felt like home when we were home before, and we’re excited to bring our kids back. I’ve seen what this place can do for kids, I can’t wait for mine to have those opportunities, too.”

The board also accepted the resignation of Jane Myers, Defiance Elementary School 3-5 principal.

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