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DAVIS TEACHERS END CONTRACT TALKS UNTIL INSURANCE PROBLEM IS SETTLED

Teachers and Davis School District have broken off 1989-90 contract talks until July when bids are expected in for a troubled insurance program.

Steve Sirkin, Davis Education Association executive director, said both sides suspended negotiations because of the uncertainty of how much a retooled insurance program will cost employees. Rising insurance costs could dilute a salary increase that the teachers have requested."The district has indicated they do not have sufficient funds to cover the full cost-of-living increase that the DEA has proposed," Sirkin said.

Kathie Bone, DEA president, said the association and district have agreed to not discuss the specific amount teachers want this year, but said a 3 percent increase in the weighted pupil unit approved by the Legislature was being cut into by the insurance issue.

Negotiations were suspended after nine sessions and 19 hours of meetings.

Faced with a 22 percent rate increase from the current insurance carrier, the district has formed a committee and hired an insurance broker to help retool the insurance plan. Bidding for the new plan is expected on July 20.

"DEA's team is prepared to go back to the table as soon as the bid has been established," Sirkin said.

District officials have said if they were to stay with its present insurance carrier they will have to come up with $1.8 million to cover the increase. That is $500,000 less than the Legislature appropriated for the district to cover rising insurance costs.

Davis teachers have gone without a pay increase for four years. Last year the DEA asked for a 4.3 percent wage hike, but instead helped pay off a $1.2 million insurance fund debt.

The DEA has also taken a stand against increasing class size to increase teacher wages. Conversely, the association does not support decreasing class sizes if means cutting salaries.

"In the past, growth has been used a source of covering some costs for salary increases. If the money is used for that purpose next year it would mean an increase in class size. DEA is committed to no increase in class size. However, class size reductions can not come at the expense of teachers," Sirkin said.

Several districts across the state have already reached salary settlements. Logan District teachers received a 4 percent salary increase through an increase in health insurance deductibles. Teachers in Heber District gained a 4 percent increase without a change to their health care plan, Sirkin said.