CORRECTION: It was originally reported that benefits had been improved under the new contract. According to ITA President Adam Piasecki, this is inaccurate and teachers actually made concessions on benefits.

ITHACA, NY – On Tuesday, the Ithaca City School District school board voted to authorize a three-year contract with the Ithaca Teachers Association (ITA), which will boost base pay for Ithaca teachers.

Late last year, more than a hundred people came out to support the teachers after negotiations had reached an impasse. In March, the two groups agreed to a one-year contract with the understanding that more negotiations would need to take place.

This three-year agreement comes following a two-day intensive facilitated negotiation between the district and the ITA. Both sides described the meetings as productive, with ITA President Adam Piasecki highlighting that a lot of focus was put on data and comparables to drive decisions.

“We believe this agreement addresses and starts to acknowledge the long-standing topics that we’ve been speaking about: base starting salary, longevity when in the district and of course, benefits to employees,” Piasecki said. “We do believe it will help with recruitment, retention and obviously teacher morale.”

Piasecki indicated that there are still items on the ITA’s agenda. In particular, he said that he hoped to gain support for VOTE-COPE, the lobbying arm of the New York State Teachers United union.

Piasecki said that VOTE COPE would help teachers to work with administrators and the community to advocate and lobby for things like better state funding and less state restrictions.

ICSD Administrator David Brown offered his opinion on the highlights of the agreement.

“One of the best things in this contract… is our baseline salary is now over $40,000 for the first time, which I think the board and everybody wanted. We were able to get there,” “Perhaps more important than that for the long-term viability of the district is a commitment for the two groups to work together to educate ourselves and our employees about healthcare.”

School board member Brad Grainger added that the district had entered into a 3-year agreement with a third-party consultant to further explore health care options.

ICSD Superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown gave his thanks to the leadership of the ITA and the other employee unions at ICSD, adding that this marked the first time in his 5-year tenure that contracts with all the employee unions had been settled.

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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.