Teachers in Ringgold School District narrowly approved a new employment contract Tuesday following lengthy negotiations that resulted in them agreeing to a one-year wage freeze.
The 215 teachers also became the first in Washington County to agree to a contract that won’t provide health insurance to their spouses who are public employees, said Ringgold School Board Director William Stein Jr., who led negotiations for the district.
“The teachers, I’m really proud of them,” Stein said.
He said the contract was approved in a 102-90 vote, and the board will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday to approve the four-year pact, which will expire June 30, 2017.
The teachers have been working for a year without a contract and threatened to walk off their jobs if negotiations soured. The new contract gives them three annual wage increases averaging 2.15 percent.
“With the new school year starting, (the teachers) will need to have stability and assurance that they continue to have a strong labor agreement in place,” said Diana Kristobeck, president of Ringgold Education Association.
Kristobeck said state funding cuts “only create more problems and instability in our schools.”
“It is our hope that our elected leaders return to focusing on public education and again provide the much-needed assistance to the kids who we educate each day,” she said.