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City school administrators get new contract – amid fiscal warning

It took 13 years, but the 250-plus administrators for the Buffalo Public Schools finally have a new contract that includes raises.

But, for the first time, it also requires contributions toward their health insurance.

The deal also came with some caution for the cash-strapped school district.

The Buffalo Board of Education Wednesday approved, 8-0, a three-year deal with the Buffalo Council of Supervisors and Administrators, the union representing 253 employees in supervisory roles, including principals, assistant principals, assistant superintendents and directors.

The contract's net cost to the district totals $19.5 million over the next four years, which isn’t a lot compared to the size of its overall budget.

But, as the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority noted last week in reviewing the agreement, it places additional financial pressure on a district already facing looming deficits in the next few years in the wake of costly reform initiatives and the approval of last year’s teachers' contract.

The authority called the school district’s four-year financial outlook “precarious,” noting contracts also have expired for five other unions while a sixth is up at the end of the school year.

In fact, members of the substitute teachers' union rallied Wednesday and called on the board to give them a new contract too.

“It is important the board of education clearly understands the impact this contract may have on the provision of educational services to students based on the current financial model,” the Fiscal Stability Authority wrote in its analysis of the contract.

The union’s last contract expired in 2004, leaving negotiations at an impasse for 13 years – even longer than the stalemate the district had with the Buffalo Teachers Federation before the two sides came to an agreement last October.

Under the deal, which already was ratified by the union, administrators will get:

• A one-time signing bonus of between $3,000 and $10,000, depending on years of service.

• A 12 percent increase in pay the first year of the contract, or roughly a 1 percent annual increase since the contract expired.

• A 2.5 percent raise the second year of the contract.

• A 2.75 percent raise in the final year.

The district will get:

• Contributions toward health insurance premiums. Current employees will pay 7 percent the first year, 8 percent the second year and 9 percent the third year. Future hires will contribute 11.5 percent the first year, 13 percent the second and 15 percent the third. The cosmetic surgery rider will be eliminated as of Oct. 31.

• An additional 25 minutes added to the workday, which corresponds to the district’s longer school day implemented this year.

• A reduction in vacation days from 24 to 20. Assistant superintendents, who are required to work Christmas, winter and spring recesses, are excepted.

• A reduction in workers’ compensation benefits. Administrators out due to work-related illnesses or injury can receive one year's pay and benefits, down from two years. Administrators out because of an assault-related injury at work qualify for four years of pay and benefits, down from five.

• Ninety days' notice from administrators who wish to retire. No notice was required in the prior contract.

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