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The Fredonia School Board on Monday night unanimously approved a four-year contract with the Fredonia Teachers Association.

Under the contract, which will expire June 30, 2003, "salaries will be slightly higher than the average for Chautauqua County," Superintendent James Coon said during a meeting of the board Monday night.

The teachers will receive a 4.75 percent overall salary increase for each of the four years retroactive to July 1. This increase includes step increases for longevity.

"The cost of the increase is offset by the change in health insurance benefits, which provides new teachers with an HMO insurance plan instead of the district's current coverage," said a statment from district officials.

Also, teachers will be required to work additional days each year, beginning with the 2000-01 school year. At the end of the contract, they will work 184 days a year. Currently they work 181 days a year.

The beginning salary under the new agreement is $27,500, which progresses to $30,250 in 2002-03.

Adjustments also were made to the top step, which rises to $58,540 in 2002-2003.

John Berner, president of the Board of Education, said, "This is a fair and equitable settlement that took both parties to the limit of compromise.

"We needed to increase teachers' salaries in order to remain competitive and to be able to recruit new personnel to our district in some very high demand areas like math and science," he added. "At the same time, we have an expanded work year, which helps the overall academic program. We have begun the process of reducing health-care costs, which has been a concern for many years.

"We can now move forward in providing an excellent learning climate for our students," he said.

The board also:

Received a report on the high school fall sports program, in which 340 students in seventh through 12th grades participated on 17 teams.

Berner praised five scholar-athlete teams, in which members had grade-point averages higher than 90 percent: girls soccer, girls tennis, girls cross-country, girls swimming and boys cross-country.

Heard Jack Sternisha, music instructional leader for the district, present a proposal for an advanced music program in which students' grades would be weighted as an advanced program.

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