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Another union, another contract in Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT — The Bridgeport Exempted Village School District now has both of its unions under contract for the next three years.

During a regular monthly board of education meeting Wednesday, the five-member panel unanimously voted to approve a deal with the Bridgeport Association of Classified Employees. The new agreement took effect Thursday and will run until June 30, 2024. It comes on the heels of a similar deal with the Bridgeport Education Association that was approved last month.

“It is great to get both of these (contracts) done before the school year begins. Between the certified and the classified unions, we met a total of 17 times, including nine with the classified representatives,” Superintendent Brent Ripley said. “I think it’s a good thing for all the parties involved because we took our time and really listened to the needs of both unions.

“COVID threw everyone a lot of changes,” he added. “For our classified staff, for this contract we just settled, they were cleaning classrooms midday. They were cleaning them in the mornings. They were spraying them down with disinfectant. They were cleaning them at night. What we’ve noticed from that is that our cleaning now is going quicker.

“There were a lot of safety protocols put into place … a lot of changes … and our staff did it without question. They just did their jobs, and they did them really well.”

Classified employees include secretaries, bus drivers, cooks, aides, maintenance and custodian personnel. They total 39 in the district.

According to Ripley, employees will receive a 50-cent per hour raise during the first year of the agreement. They will then receive a 40-cent hourly increase in each of the next two years.

Employees were also given a COVID bonus, as well. They ranged from $1,500 for an eight-hour per day employee to $562.50 for a three-hour employee.

“We based it off of what we gave the teachers. We tried to be consistent and then divided it by hours,” Ripley pointed out.

The salary schedule was updated by adding another step and a longevity bonus if an employee is with the district for 30 years.

“Those qualifying will receive $400 each year. The reason for that is the longer we keep them here in the district, the better it is for our culture,” Ripley added. “They understand the building. They know the cleaning protocol, the safety protocol and so forth.”

Ripley noted that the base rate pays differ per job. He said maintenance workers earn $16.89 per hour, while bus drivers earn $15.79 and custodians $15.39. Cooks make $15.19; secretaries $14.90 and aides $14.89.

“One change we made in the classified, as well the certified, contract is we are going to form an insurance committee. It will meet twice per year,” Ripley explained. “It’s just to see what we can do insurance-wise for the benefits and coverage, as well as cost-savings for the district and the employees.”

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