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3-year pact keeps pay same for teachers

The Williamsville School Board unanimously approved a three-year contract with the teachers union at a special meeting Tuesday morning.

The agreement, which kicks in Sept. 1, curtails teacher raises and increases health care contributions from employees covered by the 900-member Williamsville Teachers Association.

"Certainly, considering the current financial climate, I think it's a very conservative agreement," Superintendent Howard Smith said.

The wage scale for the teachers association remains the same, so teachers will still be eligible to receive "step" pay increases, essentially annual longevity raises for each of their first 16 years of service under their contract, he said.

Veteran teachers already at the top of the wage scale will receive an additional $1,000 a year, a 1.14 percent raise, for each of the three years covered by the contract, Smith said. Teachers at the top of the Williamsville pay scale earn $87,550, he said.

No additional raises will be offered, and the starting pay for a first-year teacher with a master's degree is frozen at $42,000 for the duration of the three-year deal.

"I'm glad we were able to reach an agreement before the contract expires in August," said Michelle Pancoe, president of the Williamsville Teachers Association.

"I feel it provides for fair compensation for our members while recognizing the economic situation confronting the district and the district's residents and taxpayers."

Among other highlights of the contract approved by the board:

Teachers will contribute more toward their health insurance, from 5 percent now to 11.5 percent by the end of the agreement.

Teachers agree to extend their work year by two additional days, which will allow for more teacher training and staff development before the opening of school for students.

The district, for the first time in recent memory, is offering a one-time cash retirement incentive of $25,000 to encourage more teachers to retire.

The incentive is contingent on at least 45 teachers taking the offer. Those interested in the offer have to announce their plans by Dec. 1 and retire by June 30, 2012.

Most stipends for extracurricular and athletic advisers will be frozen for two of the three years of the contract.

The district will provide stipends to nurses, social workers, counselors, psychologists and other professionals who earn national board certifications in their fields. Such stipends were already offered to board-certified teachers.

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