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S. Colonie teachers offer concessions

Couple with changes to administrator health care, unpaid day will save $332k

— South Colonie Central School District teachers and administrators have approved contract givebacks for the second year in a row, and they will save the district more than $300,000 in the 2013-14 school year.

The roughly 450 members of the South Colonie Teachers Association will take an unpaid day during the next school year, saving the district approximately $230,000. In addition, the Central Office and Building Level administrators approved of health insurance and compensation changes in their contract, adding another $102,000 savings for a total of $332,000.

District Superintendent Jonathan Buhner said he believes the teachers and administrators “deserve a lot of credit” for their actions.

“Two years in a row I think they’re to be commended for being willing to help us. We’ve worked hard at restricting the budget … it’s just been a real challenge,” Buhner said. “I think they’ve been very responsive and responsible trying to help us.”

Over the past five years, the district has lost $13.2 million in state aid and is in a tight spot due to the state’s tax cap, according to administrators. $485,000 of the state aid will be restored in the upcoming school year.

The givebacks will help maintain programming.

“I think (the teachers) realize that it’s a good school community. We really care about kids,” Buhner said. “We want our students to have what they need to be successful.”

John Ryan, President of the SCTA, said last year there was a “75 percent pay freeze to help close a $4 million budget gap.” The pay freeze saved the district about $1.7 million.

“It was a hard decision to do two years in concession … to help preserve programming, keep teachers working with kids, help close this gap. That’s really what it’s about. I feel that on the local level the district is really doing a great job,” Ryan said. “We’re just trying to do our part to make sure programs stay in place.”

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