Principals Agree To Limit Salaries, BoE Hopes Teachers Follow

Principals and school managers agreed to use one healthcare provider and limit salary increases to help Port Chester schools seal a $2.1 million budget deficit.

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.

Check back with Port Chester Patch for updates.

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Juan Jose Chajon March 16, 2012 at 05:19 PM
To all the people who has posted their comments it is Important to show up at the board meeting and talk to people in the schools, because not every body have access, time or decire to follow the news. But, if people like you who understand the issues and explain to people like me, I think, like a community, together we can bring change for the best. Lets say.... No.... to the Budget so They( The board, the Union, the Administrator can go back to the table and redo the budget) with the input of people Like all of you. Bring your Ideas from Posted Comments to all of Us, Thank you
Blogger March 16, 2012 at 09:09 PM
@Juan Jose Chajon, yes, the Port Chester community needs to work together to find a solution. However, if you care about students and education, voting NO for the budget is not going to help. A school district only has 2 chances to pass a budget. If it fails both times, the district must adopt a contingency budget. A contingency budget means even more teacher cuts. Voting NO does not help the school system. Voting NO makes a bad situation even worse.
PC Lover March 16, 2012 at 09:55 PM
To Linda O'Connor and the Teachers Union: Please state your position for all to see. Your contract is expired and it does not seem you are negotiating in good faith. Rumors abound that you are not polling your membership AND not taking any action steps toward resolution one way or the other. Why are the good people of Port Chester who pay your salaries and benefits being held hostage? Why do you not speak to us? Why do you think you are above us or are not answerable to us? Where are the depth of feelings and concern that brought the Administrators to the table, to agreement and to resolution? Lay it all out for us, Linda...what is your position in this mess? Don't we have a right to know?
Juan Jose Chajon March 16, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Hi Blogger, I am aware of the situation, but before we run with this option presented to us we NEED to make sure that the Board has check every alternative solution, and have all the parts involved to make the necessary changes, so next year we don't meet here again talking about the same problems. We need to control the cost and manage better our resources, we need to keep pushing in Albany to get our fare share, on my part I have been collecting signatures with other parents and informing the rest of the population about our situation. There are a lot of smart people in Port Chester who can come with inputs and fresh ideas, once we have this opportunity, if there isn't another choice and then I will be hundred percent behind the budget. This is a great opportunity for Port Chester to come together. The other night someone highlighted the unique problems of Port Chester and I agree, that we are unique not due to our problems, but because our people.
JJ March 18, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Great comments; Thanks to all for the information.


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