Onteora teachers agree to new pact

By Jay Braman Jr.
The Onteora Central School’s Board of Trustees has made a deal with its teachers union for a three-year contract that increases salaries slightly, but also hikes up the teachers’ contributions to their health care coverage. And the teachers get a couple more days off too.

In a district where teachers have been accustomed to healthy wage hikes and a base salary higher than most neighboring school districts, the teachers union this time around agreed to a salary increase of only 1.91 percent spread out over three years.

For the 2012-2013 school year, salaries will go up 0.9 percent. Over the next two school years, teachers will see a hike of 0.5 percent for each of those years.
They will also now pay 10 percent of their health benefit costs for 2012-’13, 11 percent in 2013-’14 and 12 percent in 2014-’15.

The negotiations for the new contract were uneventful compared to the last set of talks, which included picket lines and strike threats as teachers fought harder for their demands. The last contract was signed in July 2008.

That contract, effective July 1, 2008, was finally hammered out in an all-night bargaining session between the entire school board and key administrators who met with representatives of the Onteora Teachers’ Association.

The session went on against a backdrop of a strike threat made after union leaders felt the district was not taking the matter seriously.

Over the course of four years the teachers got an 11 percent salary increase.
Under the contract signed last week, teachers will work three days less each year, but OCS Superintendent Phyllis McGill said that will not take time away from the days teachers spend with students.