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Jun 6, 2018 4:32 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Teachers Association Agreement Approved By Sag Harbor School Board

Sag Harbor School Board members Chris Tice, left, and Susan Lamontagne. JON WINKLER
Jun 12, 2018 12:05 PM

The Sag Harbor School Board on Monday approved a five-year contract with the district’s teachers’ union, with a new schedule of salary increases, that runs retroactively from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2022.

The previous contract had expired on June 30, 2017. According to the terms of the agreement between the district and the Teachers Association of Sag Harbor, the district will contribute 80 percent of premium costs of employee health and dental insurance, leaving 20 percent to be covered by teachers. Under the previous contract, the district had paid 82.5 percent of the premiums.

According to Jim Kinnier, president of the Teachers Association, this new divvying of insurance payments had already been set to start on the last day of the previous contract.

“Compared to other local schools, we have paid either the highest contribution of health insurance or close to the highest contribution for a very long time,” Mr. Kinnier said on Thursday, June 7. “It’s a matter of negotiation.”

Salary increases will be tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers, a measure of the rate of inflation that is also used to calculate the cap on tax levy increases in New York State. The cap is set annually at 2 percent or at a mark equal to the CPI, whichever is less, and helps to determine the level of revenues a district can spend.

Under the new contract, teachers’ salary increases will range from 0.6 to 1.2 percent, based on the CPI.

Mr. Kinnier explained that since the CPI is usually announced in January, that figure will be used to determine the following school year’s salary increase. For instance, if, in January 2019, the CPI would be 0.8 percent then the salary increase for the 2019-20 school year would be 0.8 percent. However, if the CPI were set at 0.3 percent in January 2019, the salary increase for the 2019-20 school year would be 0.6 percent, the minimum agreed upon in the new contract. There also is a maximum of 1.2 percent.

As part of the contract, teachers also receive annual raises in the form of “steps,” which are based on longevity and vary from teacher to teacher. Under the previous contract, those raises averaged approximately 3 percent annually.

The agreement also stipulates that the district will appoint one lead teacher for each of the five core school subjects: science, math, English, social studies and foreign languages. The position will be appointed annually by the district, and that teacher will lead monthly department meetings starting in the 2018-19 school year.

School nurses are now included in the Teachers Association contract, which details a 35-hour work week at seven hours per day, 10 months per year. Nurses will be entitled to 10 sick days per year and three personal days, along with individual or family health insurance offered by the district with 20 percent of the cost to be covered by the nurses.

Mr. Kinnier said last week that it is the first time that nurses have been included in the association’s negotiations. Base salaries for nurses will also increase by $1,000 for the 2016-17 school year and then annually by 1.9 percent through the 2020-21 school year.

The board approved the agreement, 5-1, with the lone dissenting vote coming from Chris Tice, who said before the vote that her vote should not be “misinterpreted” as a vote against supporting the district’s teachers. Board member Susan Lamontagne abstained from voting.

Mr. Kinnier, who is also a math teacher at Pierson Middle/High School, thanked the board members for approving the new agreement.

“We’ve been through very contentious negotiations in the past that turned quite nasty,” Mr. Kinnier said. “This was not easy, but we kept it private and hope that we could continue working together. The teachers need the building administrators to work with them.”

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