At their business meeting on October 9, the Burnt
Hills-Ballston Lake Board of Education approved a new three-year
negotiated agreement with its Teachers Association, concluding a
bargaining process that began two years ago.
Members of the Teachers Association voted in late September to ratify the agreement, which covers the period of July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2014. There are approximately 280 members of the BH-BL teachers bargaining unit.
The contract includes no salary schedule changes for steps 1
to 19 in any of the three years of the contract.
This means that BH-BL teachers with 19 or fewer years of experience will continue to receive the same annual salary increases under the new contract as under the old contract. Specifically, the salary schedule will remain the same from 2010-11 through 2013-14, with a step 1 salary of $40,180 for first year teachers.
Compensation for coaching teams, advising clubs, or having a masters degree or National Board Certification remains frozen at the amounts set in the previous contract. Teacher benefits are also unchanged in the new contract.
What is changing in the new contract is that a 20th step is
being added to the salary schedule starting in 2012-13, a step
that will provide a $664 pay increase to teachers with 20 or
more years of teaching experience, who received no pay increase
at all during 2011-12.
The 20th step will provide a base salary of $85,104 for teachers with 20 or more years of experience. Step 20 will then grow to $85,768 for the 2013-14 school year, the final year of the new contract.
Overall, teacher salary schedule improvements are zero for 2011-12, 0.34 percent for 2012-13, and 0.37 percent for 2013-14.
Under the salary schedule, current teachers in total will receive an average salary increase of 2.90 percent in 2011-12, 3.26 percent in 2012-13, and 3.29 percent in 2013-14.
"These percent increases represent the maximum effect that the new contract could have on what the district spends on teacher salaries," says superintendent Patrick McGrath. "However, in reality, the annual salary impact on the district budget will be quite a bit lower once we include the savings realized when staff retire or their salaries are paid for by grants."
McGrath says: "It's unusual to have a salary schedule that remains nearly constant over a four-year period, and I believe this has never happened at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake before. This is a sign of how hard both sides of the bargaining table worked to come up with a contract that would reflect current legal and fiscal realities for teachers and NY public schools."
Board of Education president Elizabeth Herkenham agrees that negotiating this contract was both harder and took longer than usual for BH-BL. "In our approach to this, Board members were trying to save future instructional programs," she says. "After the past three years of staffing and program cuts in our schools, and of reduced state aid, and now the tax cap, we were focused on limiting any cost increases and on preserving and positioning our schools for the future."
"This contract is unprecedented in the history of the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Teachers Association," says Teachers Association president Mike Mosall. "Superintendent McGrath injected new energy into this process. The agreement represents the fiscal realities we are all facing together."
According to McGrath, a topic that took a great deal of time
during the negotiations was exactly how BH-BL will meet the
complex requirements that -- starting in the current school year
-- are part of New York's new Annual Professional Performance
Review process (APPR) for teachers.
"Developing the new APPR plan was actually a very smooth process," says McGrath, "but one that took months due to the incredible complexity of putting the new state regulations into practice."
Mosall notes that "Creation of the APPR plan was a great example of how Burnt Hills administration and teachers work together. It was a collaborative process from the start and is the best solution possible for students, teachers, and our community."
Negotiators on behalf of the school district were Robert Van Vranken, Rick Evans, and recently retired assistant superintendent Jacqueline St. Onge. Teacher Andrew Haluska led the negotiations on behalf of the Teachers Association.