Region 16 board, union agree to new contract

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By Elio Gugliotti, Editor

BEACON FALLS — The Region 16 Board of Education has reached terms on a new, three-year contract with the union that represents secretaries, nurses, custodians and other support staff in the district.

The school board on May 12 unanimously approved the contract with the United Public Service Employees Union Local 424. The union represents about 150 employees in the region, which is comprised of Beacon Falls and Prospect. The union also represents paraprofessionals, maintenance staff, cafeteria workers, security staff and technical support technicians.

The contract covers from July 1 through June 30, 2024. Under the contract, employees will receive a 2.5% raise in the first year, but won’t move up a step on the salary scale. In the second and third year, employees will get a 2% raise and move up a step.

The contract also increases salaries for custodians an additional $1 per hour. Officials said the region is on the low end of the pay scale for custodians compared to surrounding school districts.

Vice Chairman Robert Hiscox said it’s important to keep the pay of employees in the union competitive with other districts.

“They’re very hard workers. They’re the backbone of our district,” Chairman Priscilla Cretella said.

The salary increases are estimated to cost an additional $200,821 in the 2021-22 fiscal year, Director of Finance and Business Operations Anthony DiLeone said.

The contract offers employees a Preferred Provider Organization plan for health insurance and, for the first time, a High Deductible Health Plan with a health savings account. Any employee hired after July 1 will have to take the HDHP for insurance.

Employees will contribute 18% of the cost of the HDHP in each year of the contract. For the PPO, employees will pay 20.25% in the first year, 20.75% in the second year and 21.25% in the third year.

“We got to a fair place for everybody,” said Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin about the contract.