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New employee contracts reduce overall costs to district

Savings in health insurance costs allow for more competitive salary ranges

New contract agreements have been reached between the BKW district and the negotiation teams for both the BKW Teachers Association and BKW Teacher Support Staff (TSS). The agreements address a long-term structural problem by containing health insurance costs. These cost-savings offset much of the additional salary expenses outlined in each contract. The district is in the process of negotiating a new contract with CSEA, which represents the district’s clerical, transportation and custodial staff, among others.

Teacher contract

The new teacher agreement period goes from 2009 to 2019, resolving a contract that expired in 2009. It calls for raises above the salary schedule’s yearly increments for teachers that amount to 0 percent, 1 percent, 1 percent, 1 percent, 1.25 percent, and 1.25 percent for years 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.

The agreement also calls for health insurance savings for the district as Teacher Association members move to the Empire PPO base plan. Those who don’t must pay additional costs incurred by any of the more expensive plans.
Teachers will also contribute more to health premiums and drug co-pays.

The agreement also calls for a one-time, lump-sum payment of $2,100 to each of the 85 teachers represented by the Teachers Association ($180,000 total). This is a one-time only payment to cover the years since 2009.

“This payment was an incentive to settle a contract and create long-term savings for taxpayers,” said Lonnie Palmer, BKW’s interim superintendent. “Teachers will now be required to cover the cost of any of the more expensive insurance plan options bringing substantial long-term savings.”

The agreement addresses recent issues the district has experienced with rising health insurance costs. These savings will fund the salary increases that bring BKW teachers more closely in line with salaries of other Capital Region teachers.

The raises going forward average $579 per teacher per year above what teachers would receive without a contract agreement. At the same time, the savings from a new, more cost effective approach to health insurance coverage, is projected to be $592 per teacher per year.

“This agreement brings our teachers much closer to the average pay and health insurance cost for teachers in our immediate area and establishes a positive labor climate. This allows us to focus on academic improvement for our students,” Palmer said.

Teacher support staff contract

Like the teachers’ contract, the new TSS contract creates increased pay for teacher aides and assistants over a nine-year period, bringing salaries in line with area school districts.

For health insurance, support staff must move to the Empire PPO base plan or pay the additional costs incurred by the more expensive plans. These savings offset any district costs for salary increases to TSS members.
The new contract also allows teaching assistants who possess teaching certificates to be hired at an elevated salary in order to create a new career ladder opportunity.

“This will help us attract and retain any assistants looking for teaching opportunities at BKW, creating consistency for staff and for students by hopefully retaining talented employees,” said Palmer.


Click here to view the TSS agreement [PDF] | Click here to view the teacher's agreement [PDF]