GRANVILLE -- The Granville school district and its teachers have agreed to a three-year contract that requires concessions from both sides.
The Board of Education approved the contract Dec. 10. It provides annual raises of close to 3 percent in exchange for teachers paying more for health insurance. The agreement is effective July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2015.
Superintendent Mark Bessen said it’s hard to determine how much money Granville will save through the contract because the cost of pensions — which is rising — must be determined, and the district does not know how many employees will retire at the end of the school year.
He said both sides made concessions to reach the deal, which required the help of a mediator.
“It wasn’t a home run for either side, which makes it fair,” Bessen said. “That’s what the mediator worked with both sides to try to do.”
For each year of the contract, teachers will receive their “step” pay increases, which are based on seniority but which raise each teacher’s pay by around 2.2 percent, Bessen said.
In addition, teachers will receive $500 payments each year, he said.
Bessen said teachers would have received their step increases even if there had been no agreement. The Triborough amendment of the state’s Taylor Law allows teachers to receive the raises even if a contract expires and a new one is being negotiated.
For each year of the contract, the additional pay will total close to 3 percent, Bessen said. Under the old contract, annual pay increases were greater than 3 percent, Bessen said.
Teachers will contribute more for health insurance under the new agreement.
In year one, health insurance contributions will remain at 9 percent for an individual enrollee and at 14 percent for a two-person or family plan. In year two, it will increase to 10 percent and 15 percent, respectively, and in year three, it will be 11 percent and 16 percent, Bessen said.
The district was seeking a contract that saved the district money. The teachers argued they are the lowest-paid at their profession in Washington County and would remain at the bottom if their offer had been accepted.
Shelley Conlin, president of the teachers union, said teachers thought the agreement was probably the best one they could get under current economic conditions.
“We are all glad that the process has come to an end,” she said. “We are looking forward to moving forward.”
With the contract settled, Bessen said he hopes teachers and the district can work together to educate children.
“I’m glad we are done with this process and we could now focus on what’s important, which is the kids,” Bessen said.
The district has 123 teachers. As a district with a high percentage of low-income homes, Granville relies heavily on state aid but has struggled to balance budgets in recent years, as state funds have been cut and expenses have risen.