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EXCLUSIVE: BC renegotiates contract with principals union

Raises in administrator contracts also changed

The Bethlehem Central School District has renegotiated the contract with its principals union to cut the current annual salary rate increase in half.

The new two-year contract, which will go into effect July 1, calls for a 2.5 percent annual salary increase for principals, down from 5 percent. Along with other changes, the new contract with the 14-member unit is expected to save the district approximately $30,000 in the coming year.

The contract reflects an acknowledgement on the part of the district and the Bethlehem Principals Association of the economic difficulties facing BC and the community as a whole, said Superintendent Michael Tebbano.

It's a good contract, he said. "It's a signal to the community of our desire to get salary increases under control from what they used to be."

Both Tebbano and Dorothy McDonald, president of the BPA and Clarksville Elementary principal, said the negotiations were civil and constructive.

"We felt that the negotiations were fair, that they were very respectful," McDonald said. "We think that it is a contract that is fair to our members and to the district."

The contract also includes a retirement incentive. BPA members who retire in their first year of eligibility would receive $7,500, and those retiring in their second year of eligibility would receive $6,000.

McDonald declined to say if any of her union's members would be taking advantage of the incentive, but said it was nice to have the option available.

In addition, doctor's office visit co-pays will be increased from $15 to $25 and the annual $750 stipend awarded to principals for professional development will be eliminated, but a one-time $500 payment will be included in principals' 2010-11 salary.

The district last year renegotiated its contract with the BC Teachers Association to include deferrals and reductions of cost of living increases that officials estimated would save the district $600,000. Tebbano said while the agreement with the BPA will not have as large of a fiscal impact given the size of the union, it shows the community the district is working to contain costs.

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