Saratoga County

Teachers, district reach contract deal in Saratoga Springs

The Saratoga Springs City School District and Saratoga Springs Teachers Association have approved a

The Saratoga Springs City School District and Saratoga Springs Teachers Association have approved a new three-year contract that grants teachers small raises and settles on a teacher performance evaluation plan.

The Board of Education approved the contract at a special meeting Friday morning, following nearly two years of sometimes bumpy negotiations. The teachers’ union had rejected a proposed contract settlement in June but approved the new contract offer Thursday.

The agreement is retroactive to July 1, 2011, and runs through June 30, 2014.

Saratoga Springs became the third school district in Saratoga County to settle a teachers contract in the past week. The Shenendehowa and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school districts have also approved settlements this week.

The Saratoga Springs contract calls for the 530 association members to receive no raise retroactively for the 2011-12 school year, a 0.5 percent increase in 2012-13 and a 0.75 percent raise for 2013-14. Those are much smaller raises than teachers received in their last contract, though many teachers will also receive “step” increases based on their seniority.

“We’re trying to keep our costs down and keep in mind current economic conditions,” said school district Superintendent Michael Piccirillo.

“We are definitely aware of the financial strain everyone is under,” said Karen Swift, president of the Saratoga Springs Teachers Association. “We think this is fair to everyone.”

The agreement also includes a plan for implementing the state-mandated teacher evaluations.

Without a resolution on what’s called the Annual Professional Performance Review, school district officials said the district was at risk of losing $833,000 annually in state operating aid.

“APPR is a critical part of this agreement,” said Piccirillo. “We commend the SSTA leadership and membership for their cooperation and collaboration in working toward this agreement.”

All three school districts that reached settlements this week settled the teacher evaluation issue. District-negotiated evaluation plans must be submitted to and approved by the state Education Department by Jan. 17, 2013, or the districts risk losing their state aid.

Piccirillo said he was unaware in advance of the other districts reaching their settlements, and he believed the timing was a coincidence.

While developing the evaluation plan was difficult, from the union’s perspective “it will help make us better teachers,” Swift said.

The teachers association represents classroom teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists and other professional staff, she said.

Board of Education President Regina Gapczynski called the agreement a good one on educational and fiscal grounds.

“It supports outstanding educational programs for our students and implements the new teacher evaluation system while remaining cognizant of the financial challenges faced by district residents,” she said in a statement.

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