I am writing concerning the misleading information about the Winthrop Public School employee health insurance coverage in last week’s article. Councilor Sarah Fuller is quoted as saying, “We want employees to contribute something to health insurance.”

This is the latest in a series of statements by town councilors implying that school employees do not contribute to health insurance costs. This is not true.

The majority of school employees pay 15 percent of their health insurance costs, with the exception of single subscribers who have opted for the HMO plan. Every employee has co-pays and deductibles.

The Winthrop Board of Education and the Winthrop Educators Association have worked together through contract negotiations to provide good insurance for school employees. Our salaries, however, lag far behind most schools in the Kennebec Valley area. We continue to lose staff to districts where they are paid much more for the same job they were doing at Winthrop. If we are to attract and retain high-quality teachers in Winthrop, we must have something to offset our relatively low salaries.

According to figures given recently to the Town Council by the superintendent, in many cases the town pays less for a teacher than for a town employee on a similar plan. This is due in large part to the fact that, in contrast to the town employees’ insurance plan, there was no increase in the cost of insurance premiums for Winthrop School employees.

I am proud to say that I have been a teacher in Winthrop for 41 years. I hope that the residents of Winthrop value their schools enough to support the school budget that has been passed by the Board of Education. These men and women were elected to make decisions about running the schools in Winthrop, and they have done their job well.

Margaret G. Cook, Latin teacherWinthrop High Schoolpresident, Winthrop Educators Association

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