ITHACA, NY – After months of negotiations, a tentative agreement has been struck between the Ithaca Teacher’s Association and the Ithaca City School District.

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According to a news release from ICSD, the Ithaca Teacher’s Association voted in favor of ratifying a proposed contract on March 2.

The ICSD Board of Education will cast their votes on the agreement at the March 8 board meeting.

The proposed contract, which will cover the 2015-2016 school year if approved, includes the following:

  • 1.5% increases to teacher base salaries – retroactive to July 1, 2015;
  • an additional $600 added to teacher base salaries for all teachers – retroactive to July 1, 2015;
  • an additional 0.7% increase to teacher base salaries – effective June 30, 2016;
  • an increase in out-of-pocket maximums to employees’ current Classic Blue Cross Blue Shield health plan – $50 increase for individual plans, which are currently $100; and $150 increase for family plans, which are currently $300;
  • no change in co-pay cost for generic medication, which remains $5 under the prescription drug plan; and an increase of $10 in co-pay cost for brand name medication, which is currently $10;
  • removal of sabbatical leaves from the contract.
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“The ICSD negotiating team looks forward to entering facilitated negotiations with the ITA leadership team within the next 60 days,” said Superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown. “Our goal is to work collaboratively and with the utmost transparency with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) facilitator and ITA to have a new agreement in place for the upcoming school year by June 30, 2016.”

In a statement released on the Thursday, the ITA President Adam Piasecki wrote “The members of the Ithaca Teacheres Association realize that this settlement does not fully address the concern of achieving competitive salaries. Our concern remains that without addressing issues of base starting salaries and longevity, the ICSD will not be able to maintain the great teaching staff that the students in this community fully deserve.”

Piasecki also said that the new one-year contract was arrived at with the help of a mediator. The ITA and ICSD will be back at the bargaining table in the coming weeks working toward a future agreement through a facilitated negotiation process.

After reaching an impasse in the negotiation process, Ithaca area teachers began staging rallies and protests to call attention to their situation. The primary complaint was in regards to compensation, which the ITA said was not competitive with other districts in the state. The ITA was also seeking improved benefits, and more opportunities for professional development.

According to statistics from SeeThroughNY, wages for Ithaca teachers ranked 579 out of 667 in the state. Ithaca’s teachers make less than several neighboring municipalities, including Lansing, Groton, and Cortland.

ITA President Adam Piasecki reported in November that many ICSD teachers were resigning in order to pursue better-paid teaching jobs elsewhere. He said 31 teachers had left the district over the course of the previous school year.

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.