OSWEGO, NY ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ The Oswego Board of Education voted 4-3 to approve a new contract with the teachers’ union Tuesday night.
Dave White, Sean Madden and Dan Hoefer cast the no votes.
The old contract expired at the end of June 2006. The new pact is retroactive through 2006-07 and will expire in 2010-2011.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe teachers agreed to concessions in the areas of health insurance and retirement,”
according to Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Personnel Bill Crist. “In a time of rising health costs the teacherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s union understood the importance of increasing their membersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ contribution.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
|Dave White, foreground, voices his opposition to the new deal with the teachers’ union Tuesday night. He feels many questions were left unanswered.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Looking on is Sean Madden, who along with Dan Hoefer, also voted no.|
Crist estimated that over the length of the contract that hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings would result for the school district.
He also explained that there would be an increase of teacher contributions in prescription drugs and major medical thus providing additional savings for the district.
However, White, Madden and Hoefer felt they didn’t have all the information they needed to vote in favor of the contract.
“I’m not against the teachers, just the process,” Hoefer said, noting he hadn’t received the answers to all his questions regarding the agreement.
“I have some grave concerns with this,” White said. “I asked for some more information, didn’t get it. This contract was voted on by the union before we even saw it. To me that’s unusual. There are some things that I feel we should have got better concessions on than we did.”
Teachers will be receiving a 4% raise each year of the deal.
That is “equal or less than many contract settlements in Central New York,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â according to Crist.
Board member Fred Maxon thanked Crist for spending about 90 minutes going over the tentative deal with the board.
However, Hoefer maintained all the questioned haven’t been answered to his satisfaction.
“I want answers to question we brought forward to issues of the contract,” he said.
“I second what Mr. Hoefer says,” Madden added.
Board President Maggie Tiballi said she feels the majority of the 25 questions asked regarding the contract we answered.
“We also had a meeting with our chief negotiator and were at liberty to ask him any questions,” she pointed out.
“I’m not going to vote yes on something without all the information I’m asking for,” Hoefer said.
“I support the teachers, what they do. But I’m not voting for this because of the process,” Madden explained.
“The thing that really bothers me is the union had voted on the contract before we’ve even seen what it was,” White said.
“If there are items that you feel should have been addressed and were not, then certainly, you’re at liberty to vote no,” Tiballi told White.
“Many, many hours over several months were spent in the negotiations. The negotiator had the board’s primary goals in mind. The contract proposal reflects what we were told by the board,” Tiballi said.
Roger Sprague, vice president of the Oswego Classroom Teachers’ Association and chairman of the negotiation team, said he wasn’t sure what other information the three board members wanted.
“I’m not sure what they would have needed. They had a representative at the negotiations,” he noted. “Over all, we’re happy it moved along. There are some members who feel we may have given up too much here and there on a few issues.
Under the agreement, the teachers are increasing their health insurance premium payments, he said.
“Over the life of the contract, our contribution will increase from 8% to 12%. For the most part we’re looking at maintaining the integrity of the health benefits for members,” Sprague said.
The contract also includes something for the coaches, he added.
“The coaches haven’t had an increase in years. We have coaches who have been coaching for 25 or more years, and they’re making less money than people in other districts who’ve only been coaching a couple of years,” Sprague said.