SOUTH GLENS FALLS -- The South Glens Falls Board of Education is going to have a busy year in 2010.

Along with finding a new superintendent, the nine-member board will be negotiating a contract with the South Glens Falls Faculty Association, the union representing approximately 300 teachers.

Decisions on a superintendent and teachers' contract could shape the future of the district. One involves selecting someone to lead the district for the next few years. The other deals with salaries and benefits to teachers, which is the district's largest expense and could cost taxpayers millions more in years to come.

"You couldn't ask for more to be put on a board in a short time period. Those are two big issues," said Jeff Riggi, the president of the board.

The teachers are working under a four-year contract that expires June 30, 2010. If a new deal is not reached by then, teachers will continue to work under the terms of the old contract.

Officials say negotiations will begin in January or February.

But before then, the school board will have to decide who will represent the district at the bargaining table.

James McCarthy, who is in his 19th year as superintendent of the district, said he and the business administrator have negotiated for the district in the past. An attorney for the district was present in some instances, he said.

However, since McCarthy's contract will end at the same time the teacher contract expires, Riggi, who is in his second year on the board and first as its president, said the board must still decide on its negotiating team.

"I think he will be there. He has always been there," Riggi said on whether McCarthy will be on the negotiating team.

A decision will come after Dec. 9, when he - and possibly another board member - attends a seminar on contract negotiations that will be offered by the New York State School Boards Association.

Riggi said he is not concerned about having McCarthy on the negotiating team.

"He is well experienced in contact negotiations, which is a plus," Riggi said.

When asked about joining the negotiating team, McCarthy said his historical knowledge of contract talks would be extremely valuable.

"I will do my utmost to be respectful of our teaching staff and protective of our school community," McCarthy said.

He said the district is fully cognizant of the economic crisis and the limited resources of the district.

School officials will also be tied up with creating a 2010-11 budget, which will likely require managing expenses with a cut in state aid.

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