District, support staff reach agreement

I t took three years but the support staff of the Granville School District has a contract. The new three-year agreement includes a pay raise balanced with concessions on health insurance.

The Granville Board of Education voted to approve a contract providing for a raise but one that also asks employees to shoulder an additional portion of health-care costs after an executive session on Tuesday, Oct 12. The agreement covers the period from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2013.

Both sides expressed satisfaction with the contract and comfort with the process that brought about the agreement.

“I think it’s a good agreement,” support staff union President Dawna Stevens said on Oct. 15.

Superintendent Mark Bessen said he agreed. “We’re glad to have it done and be moving forward,” he said on Oct. 14. “The contract was based on good negotiation; the next one won’t take as long,

“These guys work hard; they deserve it. They’re the life’s blood of the campus and the backbone of what needs to be accomplished around here,” Bessen said.

Key parts of the agreement were the raise, particularly how the raise was given to the support staff and the concessions in one of the areas where the board can control costs – health care.

The contract contains a yearly 3 percent raise over the life of the deal.

Bessen said the effective percentage increase in the raise is .5 percent because the last contract the support staff had been working under already provided for a 2.5 percent yearly increase. Employees will receive back pay for the 2009-2010 school years because that was when the contract was under negotiation.

Bessen said the union understood when he explained the years 2007-2009 were in the past and the district could not provide back pay to the end of the last contract. Under the agreement employees received 30 cents per hour additional pay for time worked in 2009-2010.

The support staff employees will receive 43 cents additional per hour for 2010-2011, 44 cents for the next year and 45 cents in the final year of the deal.

Stevens, too, said the type of raise the employees received was good for everyone concerned.

“It’s better for everybody because it’s a ‘straight cent’ increase instead of a percent; it’s trying to bring the bottom up and give everybody the same raise across the board,” Stevens said.

The raise provides every support staff employee with the same monetary increase each year. An employee making $10 per hour will see the same increase as an employee making $7.50 per hour.

Bessen said support staff employees will also increase their contributions toward health insurance and the costly Matrix plan will be an option only to those willing to pay the difference in cost.

Stevens said most employees were getting rid of the Matrix plan and switching to the PPO or CDPHP plans.

“The only difference was the prescription plan and the Matrix was a lot more expensive; it didn’t make sense for the members to hold on to it,” Stevens said.

Single employee health insurance contributions will rise from 6 percent in 2010-2011 to 8 percent in the final year of the deal in 2013; the family rate will rise over the same time from 8 to 10 percent.

Stevens credited the tenor of the negotiations with the result.

“I wasn’t there for the beginning, but since I’ve been there it seems to be more comfortable and open; (the negotiators) are more at ease then they had in the past. I can’t really pinpoint why,” she said.

Stevens said she was, “looking towards the next one try to get it all ironed out before so we don’t have to wait another three years after the next (contract).”

abst�1 d ��Q� Fonda and Hoosick Falls, because the vote directly affected their playoff fortunes.

The Section II committee voted following a protest by the two coaches from Voorheesville and Tamarac, which were ousted from the playoffs by the current system that was agreed upon as recently as Oct. 13, Torres said.

This playoff system followed the rule book and directly addressed this type of scenario, Torres said. By virtue of the agreed-upon tie breaker in a three-way scenario when all of the teams had not met face-to-face quarter points were to decide the two playoff spots, meaning Granville and Mechanicville were in and Tamarac was out.

Because the system had already been agreed upon and was in place for two seasons prior to this year, Torres said, it made sense as an issue to be looked at for next season, but not to be  changed after a full season of play.

“You go by the rules,” Torres said. “And you can’t change rules to fit certain criteria – it’s wrong.”

The protesting coaches made the claim that because Mechanicville beat Tamarac and Tamarac beat Granville it was the same as Granville losing a heads-up match against Mechanicville.

Asked to explain and clarify the process Section II Football Chairman Gary VanDerzee said” “It’s real simple; it’s based on criteria.”

VanDerzee said despite the three teams involved not actually meeting on the field head-to-head, their records were considered by the committee to be 1-0, 1-1 and 0-1 with Granville’s record no wins and a loss. This is not the first time the playoff scenario has become controversial, he said.

With nine teams in each of the two divisions, VanDerzee said, the committee tries to anticipate situations like this one to create a playoff scenario that is fair to everyone.

“We want these things settled on the field,” VanDerzee said. “But we can’t foresee everything.”

Input is welcome and the Section II football head said he was open to suggestions. “There are a lot of people throwing stones at the process right now, but no one is providing any concrete ways to make it better for the kids,” VanDerzee said.

Although the Granville planned to file a protest of the decision, Torres said it was unlikely anything would change, so he is going to tell the team to focus on what it can control – its play against Cambridge.

“Life goes on so we’re going to show up at Cambridge and play our cans off. Who knows? Some times out of bad things comes something good.”

Unless something with this decision changes, the Golden Horde gets the opportunity to ruin an unblemished season as the now Class D and seventh-ranked Cambridge Indians have marched to a 6-0 record and have a bye in round one of the Section II Class D bracket.

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