Ken-Ton School District and Teachers Union Reach a New Agreement

May 8, 2012 Updated May 8, 2012 at 5:03 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Ken-Ton School District and Teachers Union Reach a New Agreement

May 8, 2012 Updated May 8, 2012 at 5:03 PM EDT

TONAWANDA (WKBW release) -- The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District has reached a contractual agreement with the Kenmore Teachers Association that has resulted in a new three-year contract.

According to a news release:

The new deal features numerous cost-saving initiatives that helped close a daunting $12.5 million dollar deficit.

“Both sides negotiated in good faith throughout the process, and I was very impressed with the manner in which the teacher’s union stepped up to the plate for this agreement. I also want to thank the Board of Education for setting clear communications and communicating them. The key phrase we have been discussing all budget season is ‘taking a bite out of the structural deficit,’ which this budget does. This unique new teacher contract agreement furthers the structural deficit mission into the mid range of two to three years out, and sets the stage for the district to hopefully maintain as much student programming as possible as we continue to budget and program in this changed economy,” said Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro.

The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Board of Education will vote to approve the new three-year deal. Details of the new contract include:

• The new agreement is a three-year deal staring July 1, 2012

• Adds an additional step to the same salary schedule, stretching the same money out over an additional year

• No salary increase

• Step increase reductions totaling $1.2 million dollars less than previously negotiated automatic steps over the three-year life of the contract

• Health care premium employee contributions rise one percent every year of the new agreement starting July 1st, 2012

• Three-tier prescription employee co pay structure increases in July 2012 also, bringing the total health care savings to approximately another $750,000 over the life of the contract

• The agreement affords teachers step only increases the first year stretched out over the additional permanent step, 0.7 of steps only increase the second year, and 0.8 of steps only increase the final year Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District

• Additionally, the 0.8 step increase the third year is based on the lowered 0.7 of step only final salary from the second year The district negotiating team met with the KTA negotiating team for numerous, all day sessions starting in January and the tentative agreement was recently ratified by the KTA.

The district had the daunting task of closing a $12.49 million dollar budget gap and numerous instructional and non-instructional reductions had to be made. Additionally, the community passed two propositions allowing the Green Acres building to be sold, and expanding transportation mileage limit qualifications, both propositions positively affected the April 4th, 2012 adopted budget by the Board of Education.

The budget also includes two, non-paid furlough day salary reductions for all nonrepresented employees, including the Superintendent and Central Office Administrators, and a previously ratified new contract with the Administrative Union that afforded a total three year, 1.8% salary increase, but did away with a long time previously negotiated automatic step increase schedule.

“I thank the teachers for understanding the ultimate importance of self sacrifice and for agreeing to salaries over the three year period much less than what their Triborough protected steps would have provided. It shows that when both sides work well together in the best interest of students, Triborough can be modified over the course of an agreement and I’m sure the students and parents of the district appreciate what they have done,” added Mondanaro.

“For the second straight year we were required to negotiate a contract with the KTA and once again they stepped up and did what was necessary to enable the District to move forward. I am truly proud of the employees in this District for their understanding, trust, and willingness to make concessions during this economic crisis. There is no doubt that without their efforts, cuts would have been much deeper and our children would have surly felt the pain. Therefore, I am extremely grateful,” said Board of Education President Bob Dana

“The Kenmore Teachers understand that during this economic crisis, we all have to do our part in maintaining strong programs for our students. Our negotiations centered on preserving programs and opportunities that are vital for our students. This agreement is designed to prevent further drastic teacher reductions and program cuts which have occurred in the past two years,” said KTA President Peter Stuhmiller.

The Board of Education is scheduled to approve the new contract at its May 8th, 2012 meeting, which is the same meeting at which the official proposed budget presentation is to be made. The community annual budget vote is scheduled for May 15th, 2012.