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School Board OKs pact with teachers

The Holland School Board on Monday approved a four-year contract with the Holland Teachers Association, ending a labor dispute that dates to 2004.

The retroactive agreement calls for an average annual salary increase of 3.5 percent through June 2008. It was ratified by the teachers association prior to the board meeting.

In addition, the teachers agreed to a change in health care coverage, which, district officials said, has already resulted in a premium savings of $173,100. Other bargaining units, following the teachers association's lead, have saved the district an additional $97,500 by switching their insurance plans as well.

The board approved the pact to a smattering of applause from teachers who attended the session. It was a stark contrast from previous meetings, where dozens of association members packed the school library in protest of their expired contract. The teachers had said they were the lowest-paid educators in the county.

In other news, School Superintendent Garry Stone presented a preliminary budget for 2006-07 that calls for a 4 percent spending increase.

Stone said he expected the tax levy would increase by about 10 percent. He cited higher fuel costs and insurance rates as factors in the spending hike.

The preliminary plan does not cut any major programs or staff.

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