The Shepaug Valley Education Association has been lauded by Region 12 Board of Education chairman James Hirschfield for its members' response to the economic climate.

The teachers' union entered into a three-year contract with the district earlier this month, accepting no raises in the first year of the contract -- 2011-12 -- with no step increases.

Teacher would receive a 1.45 percent pay increase for the 2012-13 school year and a 1.85 percent raise for 2013-14.

That means the salary of a teacher who came into the school district in 2010-11, holding a bachelor of arts degree with no previous experience, will remain at $43,070 for the 2011-12 school year.

The 97 union members also agreed to percentage increases in their contributions to medical insurance premiums.

The contributions will remain the same as this year, at 16.5 percent in 2011-12, go to 17.5 percent in the second year of the contract and increase to 18.5 percent in 2013-14.

"I'm very pleased for the region that this contract was accepted by the teachers," said Mr. Hirschfield after the Board of Education had ratified the contract.

"The union members recognized the economic times we are in," he added. "I think this is a good contract for them and for the region."

Teachers union chairman Abbie McGough agreed.

"We came to a fair and reasonable agreement, influenced by the present economic climate," Ms. McGough said. "The teachers were pleased with their health insurance coverage remaining similar in contribution increases to previous years."

The present contract was entered into in July 1, 2008 with a 4 percent salary increase.

The salary of a starting teacher holding a bachelor of arts degree increased by a total of $2,638 over the three years covered.

That contract will ends June 30, 2011.

-- Susan Tuz

"We came to a fair and reasonable agreement, influenced by the present economic climate."

Abbie McGough

Region 12 teachers' union chairman