Fonda-Fultonville teachers agree to forgo raises to restore jobs

Fonda-Fultonville Central School District teachers voted overwhelmingly Friday to forgo their automa
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Categories: Schenectady County

Fonda-Fultonville Central School District teachers voted overwhelmingly Friday to forgo their automatic salary and steps increases for the 2012-13 school year, freeing up $410,000 to be used to bring back laid-off teachers and restore programs eliminated in the proposed budget.

The vote tally was not immediately available, but district Superintendent James Hoffman said the proposal was approved by a ratio of better than 2-1. “This is a big deal. It is a full freeze of salary and steps,” he said.

Hoffman said the board will decide after the May 15 budget vote how to reallocate the $410,000. He said the board is committed to using the money to rehire between seven and nine teachers, depending on their salaries, for the start of the next school year.

This will allow the district to restore programs that were cut in the budget adopted by the board, such as art, music and science classes, and to reduce class sizes at the elementary level.

The support staff had earlier approved their own wage and step freeze, making available $100,000 to rehire people.

The union vote follows the board’s adoption Wednesday of a $24.2 million budget Wednesday that carries a tax levy increase of 7.96 percent, significantly more than the district’s state-mandated tax levy cap of 4.76 percent. A supermajority of residents will have to approve the budget because it exceeds the tax cap. Hoffman said the board adopted the high tax levy to keep sports in the budget.

To close a $3 million hole in its budget, the district initially laid off 25 teachers and 20 support staff, but the board brought half back as it made adjustments to the tentative budget.

Hoffman said because of decisions made this year, the district “has no more big holes in the budget. Next year is where we can almost start building again.”

Hoffman said this is the last year of a four-year contract with the teachers’ union, and the board will sit down and negotiate a new contract next year.

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