BC teachers, administrators offer significant concessions for coming years
Both groups cite need to preserve educational quality as reason for compromise
The Bethlehem school community has pulled together to preserve the excellence of a Bethlehem education in these difficult financial times.
The Bethlehem Central School District along with the Bethlehem Central Teachers Association (BCTA) and the Bethlehem Central Principals Association (BPA), announced today that they have made significant progress in reaching new labor agreements that will provide considerable savings over the next four years.
The Bethlehem Central Teachers Association
(BCTA), whose current contract will expire on June 30, has worked
with the district to develop a labor agreement that will save the
district $2.7 million over the next four years, through a
restructuring of the salary scale and changes in health insurance.
Details of the agreements will be released pending approval by both parties.
“I’m pleased that we were able to come to another agreement that puts students first and helps the district maintain an excellent education during these challenging times,” said BCTA President David Rounds. “We were determined to find a way to lessen the financial burden on our community without compromising the integrity of a Bethlehem education and the benefits of professional educators.”
The agreement is part of an ongoing effort by the BCTA to alleviate the cost of education on the community. Over the past three years, the BCTA has offered concessions totaling $2.3 million. In 2009, the teachers and the district agreed to a renegotiated contract with concessions that also saved the district more than $1 million over a two-year period. Last year, the unit agreed to concessions that saved the district approximately $1.3 million.
With this agreement and past concessions the unit has saved the district $5 million.
The 12-member Bethlehem Principal’s Association has also agreed to a contract over the next three years that involves significant changes in healthcare contributions and administrative costs.
“Our members have always sought to support the district, its students and community,” said BPA President Heidi Bonacquist. “That’s why we took a true salary freeze last year, and why we have agreed to this contract that assists the district financially and ensures a quality education for all the children in our community.”
“Because there are so few administrators in Bethlehem, the savings may not seem substantial, but knowing we are on stable ground for the foreseeable future allows the district some much-needed peace of mind,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Douglas.
“It shows that everyone understands what’s at stake here,” Board of Education President Diane Giacone Stever said in offering gratitude to all employees on behalf of the Board. “When it comes down to it, we’re all here for one reason: the kids. Dave and his colleagues in the BCTA and Heidi and her colleagues in the BPA have shown that they know it’s all about educating the children of our community.”
“The actions by these two groups are prime examples of shared sacrifice,” Douglas said. “We have made many painful cuts and reductions during this budget process, but you can’t cut your way to excellence. The work conducted by parties on both sides of the table will help us maintain Bethlehem’s record of being among the top districts in the state.”