District Faces Potential Wage Changes

New Paltz School District (NPSD) chose salary concessions over downsizing its administrative team for the upcoming 2011-12 budget, according to Superintendent of Schools Maria Rice.

According to Rice, this represented an  attempt to offset statewide budgetary shortfalls.

“When I was going to ask district office employees, all the clerical workers [for salary concessions, it] was in hopes not to downsize,” said Rice. “A lot of effort was to not have to downsize, no strings attached.”

Principals have signed a new contract with Rice giving up their right to a raise for the 2011-12 academic year, while the bus monitor and bus driver unions, technology staff, the clerical staff, directors and many more have all made salary concessions in hopes to save the district money.

School Board President Donald Kerr said that unions usually don’t sign concessions without getting something in return. The principal union will get a 2 percent increase in 2013 and 2014 and are guaranteed job security detailed in one “caveat” of the contract re-negotiations.

Rice said three caveats exist, two on the basis of language change and the other, deemed as “obvious” pertains to the salary concessions.

The first caveat details how the Board of Education (BOE) will not reduce the number of administrators in the three years of this extended contract.

“The coordinator of student services, instead of eliminating [that position], not filling it in hopes that someday they will be able to afford to fill it again,” said Rice.

The second caveat changed the amount of contribution from the school district towards healthcare. There’s a benefit trust which covers vision and dental. Rice said there will be a “performer kind of increase” and a contribution of $75 per person for three years will continue these benefits.

The third caveat details salary concessions. Rice said that the salary amount from this year will carry over, in the exact same amount, for 2011-12. However, Rice said BOE will end performance pay because “the board doesn’t feel they can afford to pay people for that performance pay price.” She called this unfortunate.

Those that have given a “zero percent increase” in salary include:

  • The bus monitor’s union
  • Another union associated with bus drivers
  • Three LPN/Aides
  • A behavioral specialist
  • The Central Office Administration which include the assistant superintendent, Superintendent Rice and the coordinators for Special Education
  • The technology department
  • All of the district office clerical staff
  • Three directors, director of transportation, director of food service and director of facilities and operation
  • One assistant director in transportation
  • A dispatcher

Not including teachers, the above concessions could save the district $132,710.

Meanwhile, some contracts are still being negotiated as of April 11. Teacher’s aides as part of the New Paltz educational support staff have not given anything yet. Custodial workers have not given any concessions, but according to Rice, are considering it.

The CWA Food Service was in talks for salary concessions and contract re-negotiations but this has been abandoned.

“Their salaries have nothing to do with the budget and it’s a self-sustaining program that wouldn’t have an effect,” said Rice. “[They are] the lowest paid people in the system.”

An unresolved issue that persists is lower salaries for teacher’s unions. According to Rice, 50 percent of costs come from teacher’s salaries and benefits. A concession is “on the table” that will consider a retirement incentive and the breakage from that. It could save the district “half a million for next year alone.” Teacher concessions were stalled until the next board meeting.

Rice said there was some opposition to salary concessions, like in the secretarial unit, but those that said ‘no’ didn’t get it. According to The Hudson Valley Times, despite those objections, a majority of the school board signed off on the new contract, voting 5-2 to accept it.