The present contract calls for paying teachers an annual "step" longevity increase of a median average of 1.7 percent up through year 26 of employment. On top of this amount is an additional raise that boosts the total above 3 percent annually, Lawson said. The teachers contribute to their health care costs, shouldering 10 percent of the premiums. Their pensions, however, are fully funded by the state.
For more than two years now, the Warrensburg school board has struggled with budget reduction, and they've made cuts to staff and programs, while teachers' salaries have increased.
According to figures in an independent report published in 2010, median teacher pay in Warrensburg is within the top quarter of 85 schools in the Capital Region, and ranks third among all schools in Warren County. At $56,356 plus benefits, their average pay is the highest in the county except for Glens Falls and Johnsburg schools, according to data collected by the Albany Business Review.
Meanwhile, the number of teachers at Warrensburg has decreased.
Several teachers were given cash bonuses to retire early, and their positions were not filled. One teacher was terminated last year due to budget cuts, and the instructor's course load was redistributed.
Among the programs cut have been drivers' education and various programs for the educationally gifted.
Last year, the district was on the verge of cutting volleyball, winter cheerleading and boys soccer, but after outcry from the public, the school board decided to keep the cheerleading and two sports, while investigate the possibility of merging soccer and volleyball offerings with Bolton Central. That option was shelved at the February Bolton School Board meeting.
Bolton Central, meanwhile, is facing a much smaller budget gap, because the school district relies less on State Aid due to its resort and lakefront properties.
Superintendent of Schools Ray Ciccarelli noted that school officials had a head start on budget trimming, because beginning in 2008 they had prepared a long-term plan which included pruning expenses in light of declining enrollment.