Update: Riverhead unanimously approves teacher contract

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09/24/2013 9:00 PM |
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead school board members at Tuesday night's meeting.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead school board members at Tuesday night’s meeting.

(Update 9 p.m.) The Riverhead school board unanimously approved a five-year agreement with the district’s teachers union Tuesday night, more than a year after the previous contract had expired.

The contract runs from July 2, 2012 to June 30, 2017, and includes no raises for the 2012-13 school year. Teachers will then receive .75 percent in raises for the subsequent four years of the contract. The teachers will also be contributing more into their health insurance benefits under the deal.

While health insurance contributions will remain flat for the 2012-13 school year, those will increase by 1.25 percent for each remaining school year, officials said.

“By the end of the contract, the majority of teachers will pay 20 percent of the cost of health insurance,” said school board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse.

The district also negotiated a lower payments for benefits such as vision, dental and disability, while changing the means of funding those benefits. Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse said that reconfiguration will save the district nearly “$200,000 over the live of the contract.”

“This agreement is a net positive for our budget and our taxpayers,” she said prior to the vote. “It provides modest increases for teachers, but at the same time requires greater contributions to health insurance costs, which is currently our single largest expense.”

The proposed contract also deletes a step, a move that is expected to save the district money on teacher salaries.

Pick up Thursday’s newspaper for more on this story.

(Original story 3 p.m.) Riverhead Central School District teachers are expected to forgo salary increases for the first year of the union’s new five-year agreement and receive .75 percent salary increases for the subsequent four years of the contract, the News-Review has learned.

In addition to the salary compromise reached in the proposed contract, teachers are expected to contribute more into their insurance benefits, according to an outline of the agreement teachers voted on last Friday.

While insurance contributions will remain flat for the 2012-13 school year, those will increase by 1.25 percent for each remaining school year.

The term of the contract runs from July 2, 2012 to June 30, 2017.

The proposed contract also deletes a step, a move that is expected to save the district money on teacher salaries.

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School Board President Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Lisa Goulding, the new president of the Riverhead Central Faculty Association, which represents district teachers, have declined comment on the contract’s details until the agreement has been finalized.

The school board is expected to vote on the latest contract proposal at tonight’s meeting, according to the agenda.

The last teacher contract ran from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2012. (The school’s fiscal year starts in July.) That contract gave teachers a one percent increase for the first six months of both years with no step increases, and another one percent increase for the second six months of both years, with step increases.

The step raises are in addition to the base salary raises teachers receive annually according to the terms of their contract, and are based on experience and other factors, such as whether they have a bachelor’s or master’s degree and how many graduate credits they have.

If approved, the contract will also remove “harmful language” in the contract by deleting a section that would allow the district to “withhold pay increase based on poor evaluations,” according to the summary.

The summary also lists details about child-care leave and bereavement, as well as coaching requirements and reducing faculty meetings to two per month, down from four.

jennifer@timesreview.com

Check back at riverheadnewsreview.com for an update after Tuesday night’s meeting.