11 CIR 254 (1991)


An Unincorporated Association, |
Petitioner, |
NO. 0071, a/k/a SCHOOL |
Respondent. |


For the Petitioner:Mark D. McGuire

Crosby, Guenzel, Davis,

Kessner & Keuster

400 Lincoln Benefit Building

Lincoln, Nebraska 68508

For the Respondent:Kelley Baker

Harding & Ogborn

500 The Atrium, 1200 N Street

P. O. Box 82028

Lincoln, Nebraska 68501-2028

Before: Judges V. Moore, F. Moore, and Flowers



A petition was filed by the Crawford Teachers Association seeking to have the Commission resolve an industrial dispute pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-818 (1988) for the twenty full-time and four part-time teachers employed by Dawes County School District No. 71 ("Crawford"). The issues presented at the pretrial conference were base salary, structure of the index salary schedule, and disability insurance coverage including carrier, coverage, and amount of employer-paid premiums. The year in dispute is the 1991-92 contract year. Crawford has a 1990-91 student enrollment of 252.

At the beginning of the trial, the parties entered into a stipulation which resolved the issue of long-term disability insurance. The issues at trial were base salary, structure of the index salary schedule and the percentage of teacher salary the school district pays its teachers in lieu of paying their health and dental insurance premiums.


Petitioner and respondent both offered the school districts of Banner County, Hay Springs, Hemingford, Leyton, Minatare, Mullen,and Potter-Dix. Petitioner also presented the school districts of Big Springs, Chappell, Lodgepole, and Morrill, and respondent also presented the school district of Cody-Kilgore. Table 1 sets out the relevant information on the proposed array members.

The parties stipulated that the work, skills and working conditions of the school districts offered by both parties are sufficiently similar to satisfy the standards set forth in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-818 (1988). By making this stipulation, neither party agreed that the noncommon schools are appropriate for inclusion in the final array selected by this Commission.

The parties used different methods in choosing their array. Petitioner's expert testified that he chose his array based on the criteria of size and geographic proximity to Crawford. He wanted an array of 12-14 schools, and had to select schools up to 135 miles from Crawford to do so. All of petitioner's schools fit within the Commission's size criteria of not less than one-half nor more than twice the size of the disputed district's enrollment.

In addition to the criteria of size and geographic proximity, respondent used the criteria of athletic and administrative contacts when selecting its array. Respondent's expert testified that Crawford has contacts with the school districts in its array through such activities as the Math/Science Learning Center, a western Nebraska administrator's group and the Carl Perkins grant money. Respondent's expert further testified that petitioner's noncommon schools are not involved in these activities, and therefore should be eliminated from the Commission's final array. All of respondent's schools except Cody-Kilgore fit within the Commission's size criteria. The student enrollment at Cody-Kilgore is two students less than one-half of the student enrollment at Crawford.

The Commission will not exclude Cody-Kilgore because it falls outside of the size criteria by two students. The Commission has often held that array members used to determine comparability should generally range from one-half to twice as large as the employer in question. Grand Island Educ. Ass'n v. School Dist. of Grand Island, 9 CIR 188, 190, final order, 9 CIR 199 (1987). See also School Dist. of West Point v. West Point Educ. Ass'n, 8 CIR 315, 317 (1986); Diller Educ. Ass'n v. School Dist. No. 103 of Jefferson County, 7 CIR 196, 200 (1984).

The Commission chooses not to adopt the respondent's method of eliminating schools that do not have administrative contacts with Crawford. While there is some evidence that these contacts impact work, skills or working conditions of school teachers, there is not substantial evidence of such an impact. See Sterling Educ. Ass'n v. Johnson County School Dist. No. 33, 11 CIR 108, 109 (1991); Genoa Educ. Ass'n v. Nance County School Dist. No. 3, 10 CIR 179, 185 (1989). The Commission's array consists of Banner County, Big Springs, Chappell, Cody-Kilgore, Hay Springs, Hemingford, Leyton, Lodgepole, Minatare, Morrill, Mullen, and Potter-Dix.


Table 2 indicates that there is no prevalent practice regarding the vertical or horizontal salary index. With an array of twelve schools, at least seven must have the same vertical or horizontal index in order for that index to be prevalent among the array. No change shall be made regarding the vertical or horizontal increments.

Table 3 indicates that it is prevalent to have a BA + 36 or MA column, but not both. Although the Commission dislikes altering salary schedules, it will adjust or alter a salary schedule if there is a substantial variance from the prevalent practice. See Genoa Educ. Ass'n v. Nance County School Dist. No. 3, 10 CIR 179, 186 (1989); Juniata Educ. Ass'n v. School Dist. No. 1 of Adams County, 9 CIR 173, 176 (1987). However, in the case at bar Crawford's salary schedule does not substantially vary from the prevalent. In fact, with an MA column and no BA + 36, Crawford's schedule is prevalent. Crawford shall retain its MA column, and not add a BA + 36 column.


Instead of paying the insurance premiums for its teachers, the Crawford School District provides them with compensation in addition to their salary. The teachers receive 12.5 % of their salary under this cafeteria plan which they can use to purchase group health or dental insurance, or they may refuse the insurance and keep the money. None of the schools in the Commission's array offer a cafeteria plan in providing fringe benefits. Each of the array schools offer group insurance in which the employer pays most, if not all, of the premium. Although the cafeteria plan bears no relationship to the cost of insurance and it is clearly not prevalent, both petitioner and respondent do not want to change Crawford's method of providing these benefits. Their sole disagreement is the percentage of the teacher's salary Crawford pays its teachers.

To arrive at the percentage of the teacher's salary respondent should pay its teachers, it is necessary to calculate the cost of health insurance of each school in the array as it applies to the Crawford teachers. Although health insurance in itself is not an issue, the total teacher compensation is an issue and fringe benefits must be considered in determining total teacher compensation. See Lincoln Fire Fighters Ass'n v. City of Lincoln, 198 Neb. 174, 252 N.W.2d 607 (1977).

Petitioner and respondent differed in their method of calculating the cost of health insurance when placing Crawford teachers on each of the school districts in the array. If a Crawford teacher was eligible for health insurance at an array school district, then petitioner calculated insurance costs as if that teacher was taking insurance at the array school district. Respondent's expert testified that he only calculated health insurance costs at the array school districts for the Crawford teachers that take insurance at Crawford.

This issue does not normally arise since most teachers take the health insurance benefit offered by their school district. However, at Crawford only about one-half of the teachers take the health insurance offered by respondent. For purposes of this case, the Commission adopted petitioner's method of calculating health insurance costs. Since all of the teachers at Crawford are using their full insurance benefit by receiving 12.5% of their salary, the Commission placed them on the array school districts as taking the health insurance benefit.

When reviewing the exhibits received by the parties, we found many inconsistencies. Although we don't generally recalculate the fringe benefit figures, we did so in this case due to the numerous discrepancies. For specific details, see the footnotes following Table 4. For purposes of our calculations, we determined that fourteen full-time teachers at Crawford were eligible for family health insurance at the array school districts, five full-time teachers were eligible for single health insurance, and the part-time teachers - when they were eligible for insurance - equal 2.28 full-time teachers taking family health insurance. In addition, there is one teaching spouse.

The fringe benefit figures for the array school districts are provided on Table 4. Respondent's survey exhibit 18 indicates that Crawford's expense for long-term disability insurance ("LTD") is not part of the cafeteria plan. Since the fringe benefit figures on Table 4 include LTD costs, Crawford's LTD costs were subtracted from the midpoint of the fringe benefits on Table 4. The balance was compared to the total amount Crawford will spend on teacher salaries for the 1991-1992 school year to arrive at the figure of 16.8 %. Crawford teachers shall be paid 16.8 % of their salary for cafeteria plan fringe benefits.


Table 4 sets out the total compensation figures for the schools in the Commission's array. Where necessary, these figures were adjusted for contract day differences. The midpoint of the total compensation minus the midpoint of the fringe benefits equals $488,946. This figure was divided by the staff index factor of 29.9665 to get a 1991-1992 base salary of $16,316.


1. The base salary for the teachers employed at Crawford shall be $ 16,316 for the 1991-1992 school year.

2. The Crawford teachers shall be paid 16.8 % of their salary for cafeteria plan fringe benefits. This does not include respondent's expense for long-term disability insurance.

3. All other terms and conditions of employment for the 1991-1992 school year shall be as previously established by the agreements of the parties.

4. Adjustments in compensation resulting from the final order rendered in this matter shall be made by payment of a single sum with the next payroll check issued following this final order.

All judges assigned to the panel in this case join in the entry of this Findings and Order.

Entered December 10, 1991.