Port Chester's principals and managers agreed to limit salaries and healthcare options on Tuesday, when they renegotiated their contract to help the district overcome a $2.1 million budget deficit.
While the savings from the 15-member union won't make more than a dent in the budget gap, the school board hopes Port Chester's teachers union set by their managers.
Last week, several people familiar with ongoing negotiations told Patch the teachers union that could save school programs and jobs. By agreeing to limit salary increases to one percent and settling on one healthcare provider, the Port Chester Teachers Association could help the district save more than $2 million, they said.
Teachers say the union hasn't put the proposal . Some parents and untenured junior teachers say they're not happy with that decision, at a time when the district is trying to scrounge up money through and school employees are organizing lobbying trips to Albany in an effort to save .
The renegotiated contract with the Port Chester School Administrators and Supervisors Association (PCSASA) mirrors the proposal put to the teachers union.
Principals and managers agreed to use the cheaper Statewide Schools Cooperative Health Plan, or SWSCHP, as the default health insurance plan instead of Aetna or Oxford. They can still choose the latter plans, but they would be required to make up the difference.
SWSCHP coverage costs $19,402 per family per year, according to the district, while Aetna and Oxford cost $32,000. Although the district did not say how many principals and managers used Aetna and Oxford, the concession could save the district as much as $180,000 a year.
In addition, the union agreed to limit salary increases to one percent annually through 2013. In exchange, union members will get two extra days off per year.
While the teachers union contract expired last year, the PCSASA contract wasn't set to expire until June of this year. The fact that the union was willing to renegotiate now signals its commitment to students, school board members said.
“The PCSASA members have shown that they understand the importance of reducing the local tax burden by responding to the limitations placed on the district by the state-imposed property tax levy cap,” said Blanca Lopez, the school board's president. “We appreciate their informed leadership, sensitivity to the needs of the community, and their actions to address these challenges.”
In the meantime, the school community braces for the closing of the Early Learning Center at , a transition to half-day kindergarten and the possibility of 30 fewer teachers in classrooms this fall.
Statements and actions by school leaders indicate they believe lobbying for state aid is Port Chester's best shot at closing the budget gap. School board member Bob Johnson returned on Monday from a lobbying trip to Albany, and on Port Chester Patch.
"Although [legislators] listened carefully to my story and I could tell that they are empathetic to our plight, I am not feeling confident that, as a group, that they understand the 'educational insolvency' we are facing," Johnson wrote.
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