Schenectady County

Guilderland teacher contract settled

The Guilderland Central School District has a new contract with its teachers — nearly a year and a h

The Guilderland Central School District has a new contract with its teachers — nearly a year and a half after its last one expired.

The Board of Education on Thursday approved the three-year agreement with the 481-member Guilderland Teachers Association that will save the district about $1.1 million during the life of the contract. The new deals covers the period from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2014.

The agreement, which the union members voted three to one in favor of, calls for total salary increases including cost-of-living and “step” raises of 2.4 percent for the school year just concluded, 1.5 percent in 2012-13 and 1.4 percent in 2013-14.

Teachers will delay receiving their step raises until Feb. 1 in 2013 and 2014 to save the district about $420,000 per year. Also, high school English teachers will switch from teaching four classes to five beginning July 1, 2013 — saving the district another $280,000.

Superintendent Marie Wiles said one of the main sticking points was over salary, given the challenging account.

“We’re just appreciative to have been able to come to an agreement that is respectful of our community and their ability to pay but also recognizes the excellence of our teaching staff,” she said.

Wiles said the savings would not allow the district to bring back any of the roughly 30 full-time-equivalent positions it eliminated in the 2012-2013 budget. Those cuts, which included 17 teachers, were based more on declining enrollment and student need, according to Wiles.

In addition, Wiles said negotiations over the new teacher evaluation system and the related appeals process took time. The district has the basic framework in place. “We still have some additional work to do over the summer to get ready for implementation,” she said.

Under the new system, student performance on state standardized accounts for 20 percent of a teachers’ score, performance on a local assessment accounts for another 20 percent and 60 percent is classroom observation and other measures. Among the work to be done is decide on what the district will use for a local test, Wiles said.

Other changes in the contract include clarification regarding the use of personal leave days for adoption, surrogacy and fostering children.

Also, if a staff member is reimbursed by the district for tuition paid in pursuit of administrative certification and voluntarily leaves the district within three years of being reimbursed, now that person must reimburse the district or forfeit part of their reimbursement, according to the district.

Guilderland Teacher Association President Maceo Dubose could not be reached Friday for comment.

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