Bethlehem unions reach contract agreement

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

— “Our members have always sought to support the district, its students and community,” said BPA President Heidi Bonacquist in a news release. “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.”

BC Superintendent Tom Douglas said although the savings in administrative costs may not seem substantial, there are only 12 members in the BC principal’s union and “knowing we are on stable ground for the foreseeable future allows the district some much-needed peace of mind.”

Douglas in the past had called the negotiations “positive” and respectful.

“It shows that everyone understands what’s at stake here,” Board of Education President Diane Giacone Stever said in a statement. She offered gratitude to all employees on behalf of the board.

“When it comes down to it, we’re all here for one reason, the kids,” she said.

Rounds said the agreement could still impact the 2012-2013 budget in the future once it is finalized.

“The salaries teachers will receive next year are considerably lower than what the district budgeted for so it could lead to returning some of the positions slated to be removed,” he said.

According to Rounds, the teacher union members are expected to vote on the contract on May 21. He anticipates it will pass.

“The actions by these two groups are prime examples of shared sacrifice,” Douglas said in a statement. “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.”

The public will vote on the 2012-13 school year budget on Tuesday, May 15.

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