Schoharie teacher negotiations going to mediator

School district officials and the union representing about 110 Schoharie Central Schools teachers aw

School district officials and the union representing about 110 Schoharie Central Schools teachers await their first mediation session to try to resolve a stalemate over contract negotiations, district Superintendent Brian Sherman said Thursday.

The two sides remain at odds over issues relating to salaries, as well as the district’s efforts to have teachers contribute more to the cost of their health care benefits, Sherman said.

After negotiations over the past 12 months, an impasse was declared late last month, shortly after voters rejected the district’s first proposed 2008-2009 budget.

A mediator from the state Public Employment Relations Board was appointed June 4, according to a PERB spokeswoman.

A date for a mediation session is expected within 30 days, Sherman said.

The teachers’ last four-year contract ran from July 1, 2003, to June 30, 2007. The terms, including pay raises and benefits, continue under state rules.

Among the unsettled issues, according to Sherman, are efforts by district and Board of Education negotiators to persuade teachers to pay part of their medical insurance premiums.

Currently the district pays 100 percent of the cost of a teacher’s individual health insurance and 75 percent for covered family members.

For dental and vision care, the district reimburses up to a total of $500 a year per family.

“The district believes there should be a greater buy-in by the bargaining unit,” Sherman said.

Schoharie Teachers Association President Jan Mullins could not be reached Thursday.

Salaries for teachers currently range from $33,601 for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree, up to $98,505 for a teacher with more than 30 years of experience and additional degree and certification, according to district records.

Health benefits range in value from about $7,800 for an individual, to about $15,000 for a family, Sherman said.

Their contract limits teachers to 185 working days per year.

In addition to direct salary and health costs, also in dispute is the way in-service credit that teachers receive for various seminars or training sessions is factored into salary increases.

Currently, 30 in-service credits are equivalent to one graduate school credit.

“The board is looking to modify that to something more economical to taxpayers,” Sherman said.

In separate, ongoing negotiations, Sherman said the district is “making positive progress” with another union representing about 70 noninstructional support staff. The four-year contract with that union, which covers bus drivers, building and grounds workers, cafeteria employees, and most office staff, also expired last June.

Categories: Schenectady County

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