Hanover Area teachers will start contributing toward health insurance

By Jennifer Learn-Andes and Patrick Kernan - jandes@timesleader.com - pkernan@timesleader.com
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HANOVER TWP. — Hanover Area School District teachers will start contributing toward health insurance under a contract the school board approved Tuesday.

The new agreement also provides 2 percent raises the first three years and 3 percent increases in the final two years of the contract, according to district Solicitor Jack Dean.

Teachers will pay 1 percent toward insurance in the initial three years, which equates to approximately $250 for family coverage, Dean said. The insurance contribution rises to 2 percent in the remaining two years, he said.

In addition to marking a first for teachers at Hanover Area, the health contribution is significant because it triggers a health care contribution for unionized educators at the Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center, Dean said.

The collective bargaining agreement covering the vocational school teachers requires an insurance contribution if such payments are enacted at three of the five affiliated school districts, Dean said. Hanover Area is the third because teachers in the Crestwood and Greater Nanticoke Area School Districts already pay toward health insurance, he said.

“This is a big thing going forward,” Dean said. “It will save money at both Hanover Area and the Career and Technical Center.”

Crestwood was the first county district to implement teacher insurance contributions, starting at 1 percent in the 2006-07 school year, he said.

Teachers at Crestwood currently pay 4.5 percent toward health care, and the contribution is increasing to 6 percent in the 2019-20 school year, Dean said.

He expects a similar gradual increase at Hanover Area in subsequent contracts. The current agreement takes effect for the 2018-19 school year, he said.

“The new 1 percent contribution may seem small, but to crack the door into premium shares is huge,” Dean said.

Dean commended Hanover Area teachers for settling the contract after only two negotiating sessions, saying the school board and union “worked really well together.”

The contract was passed with unanimous support from the board on Tuesday.

New teachers

Additionally, the school board also approved the appointment of three new teachers, $44,000 in funds for a school resource officer from the Hanover Township Police Department, and a change in dress code for the district which requires casual dress pants in any solid color, like khaki. Students will also be permitted to wear shorts year round as part of the new dress code.

In other business Tuesday, Hanover Area School District Superintendent William Jones announced that the district had secured a $500,000 educational access grant from the state, which he said the district could use essentially in any way they see fit. Jones claimed the district is one of only three in the state to get such a grant.

Tax break approved

The Hanover Area School Board also approved a tax break for Missouri-based NorthPoint Development’s proposed construction of three structures totaling 1.375 million square feet on 150 acres it plans to purchase along Dundee Road in Hanover Township.

NorthPoint is wrapping up a three-structure project on 172 acres in the township that attracted online pet-supply retailer Chewy.com, athletic apparel maker Adidas and outdoor clothing company Patagonia Inc. The company also plans to begin construction in several weeks on two of three new buildings on 330 acres along Route 29 in the township and Nanticoke.

The tax break approved Tuesday applies to new construction — not land — and falls under the state’s Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program, commonly called LERTA, which is for tracts in deteriorated areas.

Instead of a decade of full forgiveness on the new buildings, NorthPoint proposed a gradually increasing percentage payment in the final three years, mirroring the package approved for the 330-acre project.

Jones thanked representatives of NorthPoint, saying the LERTA would be bringing in an extra $50,000 for the school.

“We’ve been dying here, and this is a godsend,” he said.

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By Jennifer Learn-Andes and Patrick Kernan

jandes@timesleader.com

pkernan@timesleader.com

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.