The Gloversville Board of Education and the district’s teachers union both voted Monday to ratify a three-year contract that shifts teachers into a less-expensive health insurance plan while providing raises of about 1 percent per year in addition to automatic step raises.
The contract, negotiated with the help of a state mediator, is retroactive to Jan. 1 and expires June 30, 2012. The teachers have been without a contract since June 30 of last year. The agreement concludes 18 months of negotiations and was developed after five sessions with a mediator from the state Public Employment Relations Board.
The school board voted 8-1 to approve the contract. Board President Peter Semione was the lone dissenter. “I couldn’t in good conscience approve pay raises when we’re cutting staff and cutting programming,” Semione said.
The raises are in addition to step raises, which he said average 2 percent per year; some teachers may be getting as much as a 4 percent pay increase in some years of the pact.
The board has adopted a proposed $50.7 million budget that delivers a tax increase of about 2.9 percent. The proposal is balanced partly by cutting about five teaching positions and other staff and by eliminating seventh-grade modified sports.
The contract provides a 1 percent raise from Jan. 1 to June 30 — the remainder of the first year of the pact — and then 1.5 percent in the second year and 1 percent in the final year.
“No one was happy with the pay raises,” Semione said, but after a lengthy executive session the board approved the pact. Other than the raise provision, Semione said, “it’s a good contract.”
Gloversville Teachers Association President Patricia Donovan said her union, which has about 250 members, approved the proposal overwhelmingly. She declined to provide a vote count.
Donovan disputed Semione’s accounting of the step raises, but declined to provide her own perspective on the automatic raises, which are based on longevity. She said she did not have the salary schedule available late Tuesday afternoon, after being reached at her home.
She described the raises granted in the new contract as small. But, she said, the union granted the district a major concession by accepting the new insurance plan, which the board unilaterally imposed over the winter. School officials said the change is expected to save the district at least $1 million a year.
Teachers will have three insurance coverage options — two Preferred Provider Organization plans and one Health Maintenance Organization plan. Teachers will contribute 20 percent of the premiums for the HMO and the PPO option A plan. Donovan declined to discuss the contribution for the PPO option B, but said the district will save “substantial amounts of money” for each member that chooses option B.
“I believe people deserve options,” Donovan said, noting that some teachers will benefit from having a choice.