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Bethlehem teachers end contract talks, raises remain

With 465 employees covered by the teacher's contract, the district's budget increases each year by hundreds of thousands of dollars just to cover the pay raises. There are two other union contracts with the district: The Bethlehem Central United Employees (BCUE) Association and Bethlehem Principals Association (BPA).

The BCUE covers 509 employees, such as maintenance workers and other essential staff and the BPA covers the district's 16 principals and administrators that typically collect the highest salaries.

Tebbano told local residents about the contract talks during the district's final public budget meeting on Feb. 9, and now that talks are over he said there are no intentions of approaching the other two unions about re-opening its respective contracts.

The superintendent said that even if teachers had agreed to reduce their raises, the Bethlehem district would still be facing reductions in expenditures over this year's budget. In his reduction plan unveiled on Wednesday, Feb. 25, Tebbano proposed three levels of cutbacks, with the first being the least reduced plan and the third containing much deeper cuts.

Tebbano said Bethlehem could eliminate nearly $1.46 million of spending in the first tier, an additional $990,000 in the second tier and then an additional $2.15 million in the third.

The three tiers represent more than $4.5 million in budget cuts.

Nothing is "off the table," according to district officials, as the board of education goes through each school department every Wednesday night through March. The meetings are open to the public and begin at 7 p.m. at the school's district offices, 90 Adams Place, Delmar.

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