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Bethlehem unions reach contract agreement

Teachers, principals groups still must ratify deals, savings said to total $2.7 million

— Contract negotiations between the Bethlehem Central Teacher’s Association, the Bethlehem Principal’s Association and the school district have come to a close.

The district announced on Friday, May 4, new labor agreements were reached to replace the contracts set to expire in June. The unions will have two weeks to review the contracts before they are voted on by members.

“The Bethlehem school community has pulled together to preserve the excellence of a Bethlehem education in these difficult financial times,” said BC spokesman Bill DeVoe in a statement.

The BCTA contract would result in $2.7 million in savings over four years through a restructuring in salary scale and health insurance contributions, according to the district and union President David Rounds.

Exact details on the contract will not be available until the agreement has been introduced to union members.

Last year, the union agreed upon a partial pay freeze for the 2011-12 school year, with members not receiving their contractual raises for 70 percent of the year. That was in addition to changes negotiated in 2009, when it was agreed the existing 2006 contract would be extended until June 2012 with different concessions in each school year.

According to Rounds, the savings from last year’s concession saved almost $1.2 million, while deferrals and fringe benefit reductions from the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years saved the district an additional $1 million.

“I thought that in the end, through negotiations, the two sides came up with a contract that was responsible to taxpayers and the needs of the school district,” said Rounds. “And at the same time, it maintains a professional working relationship for the staff.”

According to the district, the current proposals and past union concessions will have saved BC schools more than $5 million over eight years.

The BPA also agreed to a contract with savings in “heath care contributions and administrative costs” over a three-year span.

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