PORT CHESTER, N.Y. The Port Chester-Rye Union Free School district and the nearly 350-member Port Chester Teacher's Association (PCTA) agreed Thursday evening to collective bargaining terms that will save the district approximately $1 million on the 2012-13 budget and restores 9.5 positions of the previously eliminated 13.5 positions to the district.
"The PCTA has once again demonstrated its commitment to the children of our district," Board of Education President Blanca Lopez said. "The savings resulting from the new agreement will help us preserve important educational programming and help mitigate the adverse effects of the tax cap levy and inadequate state aid."
As part of the agreement the teacher's union waived their entitled salary increases under the Triborough Amendment and agreed to a smaller, .5 percent annual salary increase through the 2014-15 school year.
The Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law provides that all terms and conditions and provisions of an expired public employee contract remain in effect until a new contract is approved. If the expired contracts contain provisions for automatic salary increases, such increases continue without a new contract.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Maura McAward said that the savings accrued from the smaller pay "step" increase will save the district $300,000 off the 2012-13 adopted budget. McAward said that those funds will be rolled into a savings account that the district will use to maintain programming through 2015.
In addition the teachers will join the administrators and civil service employees in migrating their health insurance plan to State-Wide Schools Cooperative Health Plan (SWSCHP). McAward estimates that the health insurance switch will save the district $900,000.
"This is a four-year contract with a four-year plan. The savings from year two is going to do an awful lot of funding for years three and four," McAward said.
Of the 13.5 positions eliminated in the adopted budget, 12.5 were reading specialist positions. However, of the 9.5 restored positions, only two will be full-time reading specialist positions. The other 7.5 positions will be filled based on the alternative qualifications (most of the reading specialists have multiple certifications or training) of the remaining educators the district laid off as a result of the cuts.
To supplement the loss of the reading specialists, the district has adopted a "response to intervention" reading program that employs more of an everyday approach to teaching literacy.
"Reading is saturated throughout, making every teacher a reading teacher. That's the way we look at it now," Assistant Superintendent Frank Fanelli said.
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