After working for nearly two years without a new contract, the Rye Teachers Association has come to terms on a deal with the Rye City School District’s Board of Education.
The agreement, which is retroactive, will cover the term beginning July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2018. The teachers union’s previous contract had expired on June 30, 2015.
Board of Education President Katy Keohane Glassberg said, “I’m thrilled that we were able to come to an agreement that is fair for both teachers and the community.”
The new deal does not include any change or offer any retroactive payment for the 2014-2015 school year, but union members will receive an incremental pay raise of $1,000 for each step increase during the 2016-2017 schedule. A teacher receives an increase in their pay for reaching the next “step” in their career, maxing out in their potential salary after reaching an 18th step.
For 2017-2018, a new salary schedule was created in which the value of each incremental step from 2 through 18 will be reduced by 25 percent on July 1, 2017. If the incremental cost between those steps equates to $2,000, the incremental cost will be reduced by $500. However, teachers agreed to a $750 increase to take effect on July 1, 2017.
Members of the union also agreed to eliminate and replace step 1 with a 19th step, which will add 1.5 percent to the existing step 18 of the contract for the 2017-2018 year.
Glassberg told the Review that since the school district rarely hires entry-level teachers, having a step 1 is unnecessary.
As part of the contract, which was ratified on Feb. 7 by the Board of Education, members of the teachers union who worked the entire 2015-2016 school year will receive a one-time payment of $1,000, which is not part of the change in the salary schedule. Members who retired on June 30, 2016, and those that worked the entire school year, but were on a board-approved unpaid leave of absence during the 2016-2017 school year and are eligible to return to work during either the 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 school year, also qualify for the one-time payment.
“I speak for many of us when we say we value what these people do,” said Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Monahan. “The bottom line is, what happens in our classrooms really is all that matters.”
Additionally, two full teaching days have been added to the school calendar, which has a total of 185 days. The calendar is comprised of 178 student instructional days, four superintendent’s conference days, and three snow days.
The agreement also includes a stipulation that elementary classroom teachers will no longer be required to teach more than three consecutive hours without having a 10-minute uninterrupted break. In an event that a teacher is unable to take a break, the school district will be contracted to compensate that teacher by paying them 25 percent of their pay rate for extra period assignments.
Glassberg explained to the Review that the stipulation comes as a result of teachers often not having enough time to take a break on days when classes such as gym and art are part of the schedule. “Teachers thought it was important to have a break during the course of the day when they teach,” she said. “They work incredibly hard with many young students at a time.”
Although it took nearly two years to come to an agreement, Glassberg said efforts by both the Board of Education and union representatives made it easier to come up with a fair deal. She said the current state-mandated 2 percent tax cap, which limits school districts from raising property taxes each year, often comes into play in contract negotiations.
“We would have loved to settle this sooner, but the financial realty of the tax cap makes it much more challenging to do so and school districts are severely limited by the tax cap,” Glassberg said.
Jaime Zung, the president of the Rye Teachers Association, could not be reached for comment as of press time.