The Niskayuna school board on Tuesday approved contract extensions for both the district teachers’ union and Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr.
The new teachers’ contract will cover members of the Niskayuna Teachers Association through June 30, 2026 and includes automatic pay increases, a one-time bonus of $400 paid by the end of June, enhanced pay for teachers with certain certifications and a $1,500 longevity bonus for union members who have worked in the district for at least 30 years.
The contract extension comes more than a year before the earlier agreement was set to expire and follows contract negotiations in recent years that carried well past earlier contract expiration dates.
The contract outlines a payment schedule that increases teachers’ salaries for each year of experience – with starting salaries around $50,000 eventually rising to over $100,000 after nearly 30 years in the district – and also guarantees annual raises on top of the so-called step increases. The annual raises are set at 1.1 percent next year, 1.5 percent the following year and 1.4 or 1.3 percent the three years after that.
The new teachers’ contract also increases the enhanced pay of teachers who have obtained nationally recognized certifications. Teachers with National Board Certification, a well-regarded mark of advanced teaching expertise, will receive an extra $2,200 next year, rising to an extra $2,600 by July 2025. The enhanced pay that follows a teacher acquiring a doctorate or other advanced accreditations is also set to rise gradually during the term of the contract.
Tangorra at Tuesday’s meeting thanked the cooperation of the teachers’ association and said the new contract aimed to advance professionalism within the faculty.
“I really feel as if the agreement here advances professionalism and at the same time is responsible to the taxpayer,” he said.
Some board members appeared to reference earlier labor-management strife within the district in lauding the new agreement and Tangorra’s ability to negotiate a contract before the current one was set to expire.
“The negotiations are a testament to your growth and you meeting and exceeding the goals this board set for you,” board member Noney Grier said to Tangorra at the meeting.
The board also extended Tangorra’s contract through June 2025; his previous contract was set to end on June 30, 2024.
The contract, which amends an earlier contract that included 2 percent annual salary raises, does not specify his pay for the 2024-2025 school year but requires the board to “examine the superintendent’s performance and appropriate compensation” prior to that school year.
Tangorra’s salary is set to reach $217,000 next school year, continuing to rise 2 percent each year until the board review ahead of the 2024-2025 school year. With benefits, Tangorra’s total pay will top $260,000 next year. The contract amendment approved Tuesday switched a health benefit from a family to an individual plan, saving the district money in the long run. The contract does guarantee the district will pay for Tangorra’s health insurance in retirement if he reaches 10 years of service in the district.
Board members unanimously approved Tangorra’s extension, highlighting his leadership during the pandemic and the importance of maintaining stable leadership as the district sets out on a major capital project.
“(Tangorra) brought together almost 400 people to look at the entire spectrum of how we were going to reopen and we reopened pretty seamlessly, and we made it through the year relatively unscathed,” board member Brian Backus said, emphasizing the enormous leadership challenges presented this year. “It will be good to have him here for the capital project.”