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20% raise over 5 years gains approval

A five-year contract for non-instructional employees that raises wages by about 20 percent has been approved by the Akron Board of Education.

Members of the Akron Employees Association will receive a retroactive pay raise of 3.95 percent for the 2007-08 school year and then 4 percent increases in each of the next four years ending with 2011-12.

In addition, the contract adds a third level of health insurance coverage that calls for employee contributions of 4.5 percent. Employee contributions to the highest plan have been increased to 15 percent, from 7 percent, and for the second tier to 9 percent, from 7 percent.

School Superintendent Robin B. Zymroz said there were corresponding increases in contributions for part-time, non-instructional personnel. And benefits were eliminated for part-time employees hired after last July 1 who work less than four hours a day.

The contract covers about 200 employees including bus drivers, mechanics, clerical personnel, teacher's aides, food service workers and maintenance staff.

Features of the contract include:

*Employees who have worked full time for 10 months are eligible for seven paid holidays. Previous contracts had no provision for any paid holidays for 10-month full-timers.

*To protect the Akron Employees Association members from a loss of pay because of "excessive" emergency closings, such as during the October 2006 snowstorm, the district has agreed to pay employees their regular rate of pay for four to six days of such closings occurring in any given school year.

*The value of unused sick days at the time of payout goes up to $47 per day, from $43.

*No union members can work overtime without authorization from the superintendent, the district business administrator or their designee.

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