C-R, teachers agree on contract


By Jim Poole

After months of negotiations, Cobleskill-Richmondville and its teachers' union have a new contract.
The five-year contract calls for no salary increases except those in steps, which are annual built-in pay hikes.
School board members approved the contract January 7, and the Cobleskill-Richmondville Teachers Association ratified it on the 9th.
Without giving specific numbers, union President Tracy Smith said more than 60 percent of the teachers voted for the pact.
The contract dates to July 1, 2011 and continues through the 2015-16 school year.
Four nurses in the union will receive salary increases, but there will be no salary hikes for teachers, except for the step increases.
The step increases average about 2.4 percent, Superintendent Lynn Macan said.
In their last contract, signed in 2009, teachers received their step increases plus a 3.9-percent salary increase spread over three years. There's no similar salary hike this time.
In not seeking the extra salary hike, teachers recognize the financial difficulties C-R faces, Ms. Smith said.
"We think it's fair," she said. "We recognize the fiscal peril the district is in."
At the same time, Ms. Smith added, the step increases will compensate teachers for extra work state mandates have piled on, especially the new Annual Professional Performance Review.
Ms. Macan agreed.
"Teachers worked hard before, but now it's really hard," she said. "It's not like it used to be. They're constantly recreating lesson plans to meet new standards and assessments."
Ms. Macan is pleased the contract struck a balance between what taxpayers can afford and what teachers deserve.
"We have an obligation to the community," she said. "At the same time, we deeply respect what our teachers, as professionals, do every day."
Both Ms. Smith and Ms. Macan praised the negotiation process, though admitting it was long.
"It was tough, and a lot longer than we thought it would take," Ms. Smith said.
The two sides had to develop C-R's APPR system as part of the deal. Waiting for the state to come out with guidelines prolonged the talks, Ms. Smith said.
"I really appreciate what we accomplished," she said.
"With everyone working together, we achieved what we set out to do," Ms. Macan added.