GLENS FALLS — Two labor contracts settled, and two to go for Glens Falls city school officials.
The district recently reached a four-year deal with its teachers and signed off on a three-year pact with the administrators. Now, it just have to approve contracts with the support staff and secretaries.
School Superintendent Paul Jenkins said he is optimistic that both of those could be finished in September.
The process to reach an agreement with the teachers was particularly contentious. They had been working under the terms of a contract that expired on June 30, 2012 and both sides had been negotiating for 15 months. The Glens Falls Board of Education declared an impasse in January and the two sides met with a mediator. They reached agreement on a compromise proposal, which the board unanimously approved June 24.
“I think both sides gave up some things that they were looking for. In any negotiation, if both sides give, it’s always a win for everyone,” Jenkins said.
The four-year deal is retroactive to July 2012. Teachers will not receive any extra money for the 2012-2013 school year. They will receive only the step raise for the first half of the 2013-2014 year. Starting in January, they will get another 0.71 percent for a total raise of nearly 3 percent over this year.
The teachers will receive their step plus 0.71 percent for a total of 2.98 percent in both the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 years.
The total teacher payroll is about $12.5 million. The district has 211 teachers with an average salary of $62,196, according to school officials.
In addition, the teachers gave concessions on health insurance that school officials sought. Beginning in January, the district will eliminate its most costly Matrix health care plan. The affected employees will have to switch to one of three less expensive plans, saving the district roughly $87,500 in this coming school year, according to Jenkins.
Fewer districts are keeping the Matrix plan, which is causing premiums to increase by 17 to 20 percent.
“Districts that were still on the Matrix were going to have to pick up the additional cost this year,” he said.
Beginning in the 2014-2015 year, the teachers will pay an additional 0.5 percent toward the cost of the health care premium to bring it up to 17 percent.
They will pay another 1 percent for their health insurance in the final year to get to 18 percent, according to Jenkins.
Although there was no total salary freeze, Jenkins said he was pleased that the district was able to get a year and a half of only step increases. The days of annual high salary increases are over, according to Jenkins.
“The school board and the teachers’ union all understood the financial situation that school districts are in,” he said.
The district also settled with its nine administrators, approving a three-year contract effective July 1 with salary increases of 1.25 percent in the first year, 2.5 percent in the second and 2.75 in the third.
Jenkins said all of the administrators elected to switch from the Matrix plan as a show of good faith. They will also increase their contributions to health insurance premiums to 20.5 percent in the second year and 21.5 percent in the third. The support staff’s pact expired at the end of June and the secretaries expired at the end of June 2012.
Salaries and benefits are the main issue for all of the labor unions, according to Jenkins. He said the district has to strike a balance between containing costs and maintaining programs and attracting top educators for positions.
“All the units that we’ve been negotiating with are understanding of the climate that school districts are in,” he said.