LONDONDERRY | The Londonderry School District's support staff union has accepted a new contract that increases members' salaries and changes their health insurance carrier.

Two members of the School Board negotiated the pact with a mediator representing support staff union.

The changes are expected to add 2 cents to the school portion of the tax rate.

Of the 320 members of the district's support staff -- made up of clerical staff, special education assistants and classroom assistants -- 76 take the health insurance offered by the district, said Suzie Swenson, human resources director.

The group had been using a local government-centered insurance managed by Anthem and now will be offered School Care managed by Cigna, the same insurance offered to teachers and administrative staff.

"This is a win-win situation," said board member Steve Young, who was on the union negotiating committee with George Herrmann.

By moving the support staff into the same insurance plan as other school unions, premiums are reduced, resulting in savings for the district and the employees.

"The employees will pay less out of pocket," Young said, and the school district will save close to $195,000, offsetting the cost of raises that are also part of the agreement.

The union will pay 35 percent of the premium for School Care insurance, with the district paying the remaining 65 percent. Co-pays for doctors' visits are $10.

The cost of salary increases that will be up for voter approval in March is $79,394. The second-year figure is $198,484.

The total salary increase for the first year is $250,564, Young said. Added to this figure is $19,168 for FICA and Medicare and $4,297 for New Hampshire retirement funds.

The first year, the support staff will receive a 2.75 percent increase in salary and the second year it will be adjusted to the cost of living. The fiscal year begins July 1.

"All the (support staff employees) will receive a step increase as well," Young said. Step increases are tied to longevity.

The union voted 90 to 1 to accept the agreement.

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