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Katonah-Lewisboro School Board OK's New Deal With Teachers' Union

The Katonah-Lewisboro school board, pictured at its Nov. 17, 2016 meeting.
The Katonah-Lewisboro school board, pictured at its Nov. 17, 2016 meeting. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. -- The Katonah-Lewisboro school board voted unanimously on Thursday in favor of a new four-year agreement with the school district's teachers' union.

The new deal with the Katonah-Lewisboro District Teachers Association is retroactive to July 1 and will expire on June 30, 2020.

The agreement replaces the previous deal, which ran for three years and expired this past June.

The union's membership ratified the agreement on Nov. 9.

School board President Marjorie Schiff praised the deal in remarks at the meeting.

“This agreement safeguards a high-quality teaching and learning environment that we enjoy in Katonah-Lewisboro today, and provides fiscal sustainability to the district and our community beyond the four-year term of the agreement and over the long term."

Under the new agreement, teachers will get base-salary increases of 0.5 percent for the current school year; 1.25 percent for the 2017-18 school year; 1.5 percent for 2018-19; and 1.75 percent for 2019-20.

Base salary is one component of teachers' wages. Union members also receive what are called steps, which are additional wages that are tied to a mix of employment longevity and educational attainment. 

Step increases, like base-salary increases, usually compound annually, which means that they form the starting points, year after year, for what percentage hikes are based off of. The effects of both wage layers are similar to that of compound interest in investing, the details of which can be learned here.

One notable portion of the new deal, however, calls for union members to receive the equivalent wage amount of their step hikes for the current year in a non-compounding fashion, which means payments will be issued in lump sums and will not be used to calculate further increases for the contract's other three years.

However, the pace of step hikes will be restructured under the deal, according to Schools Superintendent Andrew Selesnick. Teachers will now receive step increases in smaller amounts for each year of service, with no cut off prior to retirement. Previously, teachers would get larger annual step hikes but stopped by the time they became decades-long veterans.

Unlike base-salary increases, step hikes are not distributed based on a uniform percentage, Selesnick explained.

The school district will see savings under the new deal's provision for health-insurance premium contributions. The agreement calls for the employees' share of premiums, which were at 13 percent at the end of the old deal, to rise to 14 percent for the current school year; 15 percent for 2017-18; 16 percent for 2018-19; and 17 percent for 2019-20.

Also notable in the new contract is an early retirement incentive. Under the new program, teachers who want to take early leave, provided request it before the first Friday in January of a school year, are entitled to stipends of $1,500.

Additionally, teachers employed by Katonah-Lewisboro from July 1, 1995 to June 30 of this year will receive $2,118 stipends each October, which will be contributed to their 403(b) supplement retirement accounts. Employees hired on or after July 1 of this year will be eligible once they have worked in the school district for 10 years.

The 403(b) accounts are provided in addition to the state's pension system, which the school district is legally mandated to contribute to.

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