Northville teachers, aide get layoff notices

The Northville Central School District has sent out notices to 10 teachers and one teaching assistan
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The Northville Central School District has sent out notices to 10 teachers and one teaching assistant warning that their jobs may be cut from the 2010-11 school budget.

Superintendent Kathy Dougherty said the potential job cuts represent the worst-case scenario for the district, if Gov. David Paterson’s proposed 8.3 percent cut to state education aid were enacted; such a reduction would cost her district about $309,000.

The notice of potential layoffs comes soon after Northville voters on Feb. 23 approved a $3.86 million renovation project, which promises to raise the district’s tax rate 2.97 percent every year for 14 years to pay off the bond.

Dougherty said the two issues are not connected and there was no intention to conceal the possibility of layoffs until after the bond vote. The district’s teachers union contract requires notice be given to tenured teachers by March 1; she said she requested the union allow the notices be postponed until April 1, as they did last year.

“They declined, I respect that. That was their right to do that and therefore we had to follow the contract,” Dougherty said. “I can understand how somebody who is not as familiar with the intricacies of this situation might see this as not the best timing, and I certainly appreciate that.”

Wendy Sweet, co-president of the Northville Teachers Association, disputed Dougherty’s claim that she had asked for an extension on releasing the notices. Sweet said Dougherty had told the union there would be notices of some potential layoffs due to a $500,000 deficit in the district’s budget, but she wouldn’t specify how many until after the bond vote.

“I think the community as a whole is kind of upset about it. I think they probably feel a little bit betrayed,” Sweet said.

Dougherty said district voters weren’t choosing between the renovation project and the potential layoffs for the 2010-11 school year. “The project has no direct tax impact for the 2010-11 school year. The cost of the project for that year will be paid for by the EXCEL money from New York state,” she said.

Sweet said the district has proposed renegotiating the teachers contract, which runs until the end of the 2010-11 school year, to drop the high-priced Blue Cross Blue Shield Indemnity health insurance plan in favor of a less expensive Preferred Provider Organization plan.

Northville and several other school districts in Fulton County, including the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District, the Greater Johnstown School District and the Gloversville Enlarged School District, have all struggled with the high cost of the indemnity health insurance plans for this school year.

The indemnity plans typically cost as much as double the national average cost for health insurance. Northville Business Manager Bruce Ellsworth did not return phone calls Tuesday seeking exact cost figures for the district’s health insurance plans.

Broadalbin-Perth is embroiled in a lawsuit with its retired teachers over a contract renegotiation last summer to drop its indemnity health plan. Johnstown unilaterally dropped the plan without union consent, but was able to convince its teachers union to accept the change without a court battle. The Gloversville teachers union has refused to give up the plan despite double digit layoffs last year and is still negotiating a new contract.

Dougherty said if the teachers give up the plan it could avert two to three potential layoffs.

Sweet said losing 10 teachers from her unit’s 55 members would be a terrible blow. She said she’s encouraging her members to attend meetings with officials from Blue Cross Blue Shield on Thursday to discuss dropping the indemnity insurance.

Categories: Schenectady County

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