Amherst Central Schools Reach Landmark Agreement with Teachers' Union in Contract Negotiations

February 16, 2012 Updated Feb 16, 2012 at 12:17 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Amherst Central Schools Reach Landmark Agreement with Teachers' Union in Contract Negotiations

February 16, 2012 Updated Feb 16, 2012 at 12:17 PM EDT

Amherst, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Amherst Central School District Superintendent Dr. Laura Chabe announced Thursday that the Amherst Education Association and the District’s Board of Education have reached a landmark contract agreement. 

In a news release, Dr. Chabe said, “This is a historic day for the future of the District.  We are deeply grateful to the teachers for their cooperation in this contract, which will save jobs and help to maintain the quality of the education in the Amherst schools in these challenging economic times.”

The agreement, approved by the AEA in a vote on Wednesday evening and ratified unanimously by the Board of Education this morning, will result in more than $700,000 in savings in the projected 2012-13 District budget.  The savings realized through this ground-breaking agreement with the teachers’ union will avoid the proposed layoffs of as many as 20 teachers who were slated to lose either all or part of their jobs in 2012-13 and save related programs, maintain class size, and restore proposed cuts in Academic Intervention Services and other services. 

The Union voted to accept the four-year contract covering the period July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2015, which freezes all salaries for 2012-13 at 2011-12 levels.  This agreement is a true “hard” freeze not only because there will be no union-wide increase, but because teachers agreed to forego their right to a “step” increase in 2012-13.  For the remaining two years, the step increases provided under New York State’s Triborough Amendment will be granted, but no additional percentage increase is included in the contract for 2013-14 or 2014-15.

The Amherst Education Association represents more than 280 teachers and nurses in the Amherst Central School District.  Jennifer Higgins, current president of the AEA said, “We’ve been in this situation before.  We agreed to move to self-funded health insurance under a single provider.  We agreed to reductions in retirement.  This is just the latest example of how the union has rolled their sleeves to help the students and the community.”

Speaking on behalf of the Amherst Board of Education, Board President William Blanford said, “We are fortunate to have such a dedicated team of professionals in our classrooms. The Board is very pleased to reach an agreement that reflects the needs of our students and District residents in this challenging economic climate.”

The next meeting of the Amherst Central School District Board of Education will take place on February 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm in the Middle School cafeteria—55 Kings Highway, Amherst.