SARANAC LAKE - The Saranac Lake Central School District Board of Education has approved a new three-year contract with the union representing its nearly 200 teachers and teaching assistants.
The deal with the Saranac Lake Teachers Association, which is retroactive to July 1 of this year, will require the union's members to make higher contributions toward their health insurance premiums. The contributions will continue to be made on a fixed dollar amount in the first year of the agreement but will switch to a percentage contribution in years two and three. District officials pushed for the switch to percentage-based contributions, as they believe it's a more fair way to keep pace with the rising cost of employee benefits.
Health insurance costs were the biggest sticking point in the negotiations, which began in the spring and resulted in an impasse being declared in September. A mediator from the state Public Employment Relations Board was brought in and helped to broker the deal.
The union also agreed to give its members the option of switching to a different health insurance plan, one that would be less expensive for the school district.
Most of the union's members will receive average salary hikes of 2.95 percent in the first year and 3.15 percent in the second year. In the third year, most teachers would get average salary hikes of 3.41 percent, and teaching assistants would get 3.71 percent increases. Union officials noted, however, that some members' take-home pay will actually decrease in the first year, by as much as 1.2 percent, because they're paying higher health insurance contributions.
The contract was ratified Friday by a 125-5 vote of the union's membership. The SLTA represents 198 teachers and teaching assistants.
The school board approved the agreement in a 4-0 unanimous vote this morning. Three members of the board weren't present for the vote but had been made aware of the contract's terms.
Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.