BLANCHESTER — Superintendent Dean Lynch says recently signed labor agreements make Blanchester Local Schools’ salaries equitable and competitive.

“It was definitely more equitable. That was our purpose going in,” Lynch said, adding that school officials extensively studied regional salaries and benefits. “It is more competitive with regards to salaries within the region.”

The agreements provide teachers in the Blanchester Education Association a 3 percent raise in 2016, 3 percent in 2017 and 2 percent in 2018. Ohio Association of Public School Employees members, meanwhile, will receive a 2.5 percent raise in 2016 and 2 percent in 2017 and again in 2018.

On healthcare, both associations agreed to increases in out-of-pocket expenses and co-pays on prescriptions. Also added was an opt-out clause.

Lynch said the schools were “very fortunate” to have the labor agreements signed now instead of closer to the start of school. He also said it was “by far one of the most pleasant negotiations I’ve been a part of.”

Bennie Carroll, the president of the Blanchester Education Association, agreed.

“It was a good negotiation,” he said. “I thought we got a contract that was fair to everyone.”

The board also reviewed preliminary data from its state assessment.

Commending his staff, Lynch said 85.4 percent of the third grade scored a proficient or above on its reading test and a performance index of 106.7. At the high school, at least 90 percent of students passed state tests in four of five assessments.

All those scores represent an improvement from last year, according to data culled from the state education website.

“I didn’t want to praise our staff too soon, but looking at our first data release, it looks like they did an excellent job,” Lynch said.

The school also adopted a 10-point grading scale, which Lynch said was more in line with other high schools and with colleges, including Southern State Community College.

The new grading scale starts an A- at 90, a B- at 80, a C- at 70, a D- and 60 and an F at 59 and below.

Lynch said some students pursued dual-enrollment classes while others received the same instruction at Blanchester High School. Because of the different grading scales, he said those students might have the same scores but different grades.

Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.