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Bethlehem teacher's union to make concessions

The Bethlehem Central Teachers Association has renegotiated its union contract with the school in a move that district officials said contains significant concessions and could save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The amended contract includes a two-year extension as the current one expires in 2010 and would carry through until the end of the 2011-2012 school year. Superintendent Michael Tebbano said if the renegotiated contract passes a union vote, it would save the district more than $600,000 by the end of next year.

"We have renegotiated the teacher's contract and on Monday [April 20] we entered into a memorandum of agreement with the BCTA and the school district in what I would consider significant concessions that will garner huge savings in the next few years," Tebbano told The Spotlight in an excusive interview on Wednesday, April 22.

The main concessions come in the form of deferring cost-of-living increases for four months next year and for three months the year after, but also include moratoriums on sabbaticals and professional development stipends, saving $97,500, and a freeze on coaching salaries, which will save $25,000.

There will also be a fringe benefit savings of $75,600 according to the terms of the tentative contract.

Information detailing some of the contract's terms can be found on the district's Web site at bcsd.k12.ny.us.

Retirement incentives are also being offered in hopes of replacing some teachers at a cost savings to the district, according to Tebbano, who said about 44 teachers are currently eligible to take advantage of early retirement over the next two years.

Currently, teachers are scheduled to receive a 3.25 percent cost-of-living increase, combined with step increases the union contract calls for an average of 5.63 percent in salary increases.

After next year's cost-of-living adjustment, the new contract would give teachers a 2.75 percent cost-of-living increase in 2010-11 and a 2 percent increase in 2011-12 that could increase an additional 0.5 percent if the economy picks up.

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