RavenaCoeymansSelkirkCentralSchoolDistrict #RCSCSD #TeachersAssociation #RCSTA #AliHibbs #SpotlightNews
RAVENA—After more than a year of contentious negotiations, the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk School District and leadership of the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Teachers Association have announced a memorandum of agreement for the RCSTA employment contract for July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2021.
The RCSTA collective bargaining unit is comprised of 222 faculty members. Its last contract expired June 30, 2017, and negotiations began early that year.
A newsletter sent out in November 2017 called the first six months of negotiation “angry and disrespectful,” but expressed hope that the new district administration would be more amenable.
“We were very frustrated with the pace of it,” Matt Miller, president of RCSTA, told Spotlight News last month. “They were saying they didn’t have any money, the typical kinds of things you hear in a contract negotiation, whereas we had looked into the finances and felt the money was there to pay the teachers.”
That frustration prompted teachers earlier this year to begin walking in to the high school and middle school together in the mornings, and the elementary school teachers to walk out together at the end of the day, in a show of unity. “Teachers aren’t allowed to strike in New York state,” said Miller. “So there wasn’t a whole lot we could do.” A large group of teachers went en masse to a school board meeting in February, he noted, and several have continued to attend subsequent meetings to implore district officials to reach an agreement.
A handshake agreement was finally reached on Wednesday, Feb. 14, of this year—exactly one year after RCSTA and RCSCSD met to commence negotiations—but a miscommunication took more than a month to straighten out. In the final week of March, the new contract agreements were put before union membership and the RCSCSD Board of Education for a vote. BOE unanimously approved the proposal and it passed RCSTA with 92 percent approval.
The newly ratified contract will be retroactive to July 1, 2017. Under the new contract:
•Those who are hired after July 1, 2018, and work in the district for 15 or more years, will be eligible for a fixed retirement buyout for any unused sick and personal days—up to 240 days.
•Teachers will be required to attend an additional 10 hours of professional development over the course of each school year.
•RCSTA members will move to a new copay model (CASHIC) which will reduce premium increases for both the district and for members.
•A number of language changes better clarify procedures for approving unit member’s use of leave time and payment for summer work.
•Starting salaries for teachers will be raised by eliminating the first step on the salary schedule during each of the next four years; moving from a 16 step salary schedule to a 12 step salary schedule by 2020-21
•Over the next four years, teachers will receive a 1.4 percent, 1.7 percent, 1 percent, and .5 percent increase, respectively
•Off step teachers accepted a change in how they are
compensated, from percentage increases to flat dollar amounts.
•Nurses’ salaries will be adjusted from 80 percent to 82 percent of the teacher’s salary schedule
•Coaching staff, who are paid on a point system, will receive an increase of $1 per point in each of the next two years.
According to RCSCSD, new contract increases represent less than one percent of the annual school budget over the next four years.
“I think,” said Miller, “in the end, we got some decent money for giving up some major components of our contract that have been there for a while.”
“We amicably tackled some relevant issues for both the district and the unit,” said RCSCSD Superintendent Brian Bailey. “There had been no new money added to the teacher salary step schedule for almost 10 years. This meant that RCS was falling farther and farther behind neighboring schools in our ability to attract and retain qualified staff members. These improved starting and continuing salaries, combined with additional professional development time and reduced insurance premiums for all parties, will help to improve our district both fiscally and programatically.”
After BOE approved the contracts on Tuesday, March 27, its President, James Latter, thanked both the union and district administration. “I know it’s never easy,” he said. “They put in a lot of time and effort. I appreciate us getting to ‘yes,’ and look forward to working hand-in-hand over these next contract years. It’s never fun, sometimes it brings out not the best in us, and hopefully we can put that all behind us and work together the way we’re supposed to.”