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After two-year stalemate, WCS teachers and school district agree on work contract

The Warrensburg Central School District and the local teachers union have agreed to an employment contract, ending a two-year stalemate. The new contract calls for slim salary increases on top of the annual routine 'step' increases, offset by a marginal increase in health insurance contributions. Shown is the Warrensburg Elementary School on James St.

The Warrensburg Central School District and the local teachers union have agreed to an employment contract, ending a two-year stalemate. The new contract calls for slim salary increases on top of the annual routine 'step' increases, offset by a marginal increase in health insurance contributions. Shown is the Warrensburg Elementary School on James St. Photo by Thom Randall.

— These salary increases are on top of the “step” increases that are granted each year that average just under 2 percent. In Warrensburg, these step increases conclude at 26 years of service.

Lawson said these increases are comparable to the amounts agreed to recently in the settlements in the Lake George, Bolton Landing and Granville schools.

“I think both sides spent a fair number of hours and a lot of hard work to reach this agreement,” Lawson said Tuesday Jan. 15.

The teachers' former five-year contract expired June 30, 2011. Negotiations had started six months earlier. By Fall 2011, negotiations were at an impasse, and a Public Employee Relations Board mediator was brought in to work with the two sides on a settlement. The PERB mediator worked with the parties three times over 2012, but no settlement was reached. In late fall, an attorney for the district and a labor relations specialist from the state teachers’ union continued to guide negotiations, Lawson said.

“Both parties feel this is is a fair agreement,” he said.

Warrensburg Teachers Association president Marc Mularz offered his comments Jan. 15 via email. He said that the settlement was faair considering the current economic climate.

“The teachers were very supportive of the agreement and recognized that concessions were necessary due to the continued underfunding of education by the state government,” he said. “Hopefully the state will see fit to restore education funding to at least the level of two years ago so that we can cease this spiral of reduced opportunities for students.”

In the expired contract, a teacher that retired with 300 unused sick days could be paid cash for 200 of them and use the remaining 100 to permanently “buy down” their health insurance premiums, subtracting 1 percent for every 10 days accrued. Lawson said a fair number of teachers were doing this, and many effectively had no health insurance costs.

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