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LAKE GEORGE -- The Lake George school district has settled a new contract with the teachers, who have made concessions that will save the district more than $500,000 over the life of the agreement.

On Monday, the school board approved the contract, ending more than a year of negotiations. Teachers ratified the agreement by a significant margin Thursday.

The three-year contract is effective from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2014.

When the old contract expired last year, the district had to honor the terms of the agreement until there was a new one, as required under the Triborough amendment of the state’s Taylor Law.

One of the terms is that teachers receive a salary increase by moving up one step on a pay schedule based on longevity.

Superintendent Patrick Dee said teachers would have earned more in salary and contribute less toward health benefits if they continued without a new contract. But they saw the fiscal challenges facing the district and wanted to maintain programs, so they agreed to concessions.

“The contract we put together with the teachers is actually less than they were entitled (through) Triborough. They will be taking less money than they would if they had not settled,” Dee said.

“This is a major concession by the teachers.”

For the current school year, teachers received only their step increase and gave back $32,000 for training.

For 2012-13, teachers will take a half-year pay freeze. They will stay on the same step as the previous year for six months. During the second half of the school year, they will move up a step on the schedule.

In addition, the salary schedule will increase $150 at each step. The change is effective for the second half of 2012-13.

Their contributions for health benefits will also change. Teachers used to contribute $1,050 a year.

Now, they will pay more. Teachers will contribute 12 percent for the Preferred Provider Option (PPO) and 15 percent for the Matrix Indemnity Plan.

A PPO family plan costs the district $18,000 per year per employee, and $21,000 for Matrix. There are approximately 110 members in the teachers union, and only about 12 uses the Matrix, a plan that’s no longer offered, Dee said.

For 2013-14, teachers will take a full-year step freeze. They will not move up a step on the schedule, which the district said will lead to savings for years to come.

“Even when we come off this contract, there is a savings over what we could have been paying through Triborough,” Dee said. “This contract helps our district plan for the future.”

Teaching assistants and nurses, who are part of the union, will contribute 3 percent toward their health insurance. Under the old contract, they paid $230 a year. In most cases, they will be doubling their contribution.

For 2012-13, teaching assistants and nurses will move up a step. Their salary schedule will be adjusted so it’s in line with the starting salaries of the staff association, the district said.

The following year, 2013-14, teaching assistants and nurses will contribute 4 percent for health insurance if the premium increases no more than 10 percent, or 3.5 percent if the premium increase is more than 10 percent.

They will move up a step for 2013-14. Their step schedule will increase $200 at each step.

“Ratification of this contract by our members recognizes our responsibility to help contribute to the school community during a difficult economic time,” said Tony Cocca, lead negotiator for the teachers union. “We wanted to do what is right to protect programs that serve children, allow the district to construct a stable and predictable financial future, yet maintain a basic fairness for our members.”

Last year, the district and teachers reached an impasse. A state mediator was brought to help negotiate, although the two sides reached the deal without the mediator.

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