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Tunkhannock Area School district teachers have a new contract that will be in effect through the spring of 2021.

It was announced during Thursday’s school board meeting about the agreement and board members thanks the teachers for their patience.

Jim Maria, a representative of the Pennsylvania State Education Association who had been in on Tunkhannock Area Education Association discussions, said on May 18 the contract language the school board laid out at its meeting May 10 was voted on and accepted by the teachers.

Maria said, “There was a lot of discussion that had to be worked through, and I’m glad we came up with a final agreement that is acceptable to all sides.”

The school board’s proposal offered pay increases of 2.6 percent for the present school year, 2.6 percent for 2018-19, 2.8 percent for 2019-20, and 3 percent for 2020-21. It also reflects a change in health plan choices to Geisinger HMO HRA (Health Reimbursement Arrangement) or Highmark HMO HRA but for the 2018-19 school year would reflect no change in cost share which is one percent of salary or 4 percent of premium whichever is lower. (The HRA’s have a higher deductible.) In 2019-20, the cost share would be 4 percent, and in 2020-21 the cost share would be 4 percent with a cap of 12 percent increase over the previous year.

The teachers had been without a contract since last summer, and to get things moving again, the TAEA in January had set a strike date of April 23 for teachers to walk off the job. The strike date was pulled off the table in early April as negotiations ramped up.

TA school board president Philip Farr said, “We’re happy this process is over,” and he thanked both sides for “sticking it out” until an agreement was achieved.

He said with the closing of three elementary schools slated as soon as the current term is over the district will have its hands full with consolidation concerns.

“It’s going to be a busy summer,” he said.