Medina Journal-Register — The Albion Board of Education approved the district’s contract with its teacher’s union Monday, a move that includes an annual salary increase and an evaluation tool that is a requirement for education aid funding.
The new contract, which covers the 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, was OKd after an executive session. The Albion Teachers Association still has to sign off on the compact.
”It benefits both sides,” Superintendent Michael Bonnewell said. “We now have the process for creating a teacher evaluation system.”
That piece has to be in place by January 2013 for schools to receive their share of New York’s $700 million in Race to the Top funds.
According to Bonnewell, the contract increases teacher’s salary’s by an average of 3.4 percent each years but increases their contribution for health insurance from 10 percent of costs to 15 percent.
The deal also reduces the maximum limit for post-retirement health insurance that can be received in exchange for unused sick days to 12 years. It was previously 16 years.
”It will slow the growth of our future liability,” Bonnewell said.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Sean Liddle told board members Monday that the district’s estimated liability for those benefits will rise to $10.88 million next year.
Albion has traditionally set aside 2/3 of the estimated cost for non-pension retirement benefits, which board members described as a prudent measure. The board approved adding more than $250,000 to the fund Monday.
”This allows these costs to not affect our annual budget,” Liddle said.
The teacher compact comes just after Albion placed highly in a ranking of teacher pay levels compiled by Buffalo Business First. Their rankings analyzed pay levels at the fifth-25th, 50th, 75th and 95th percentiles in each district, using data from the New York State Education Department.
According to the rankings, Albion placed 18th out of 98 districts in Orleans, Niagara, Genesee, Erie, Wyoming, Allegany, Chautaqua and Cattaraugus counties.
Bonnewell said Albion’s placement was skewed by the district’s long-tenured staff, as the lowest percentiles are measuring teachers who are already receiving above their starting salaries. The lowest percentile measured, those teachers who make less than 95 percent of their colleagues, came in at $45,524 — the second-highest in the region.
”It makes it look higher,” Bonnwell said. “Our newest teachers are several years in.”
Locally, Medina was next highest on the list, coming in 26th, followed by Barker at 31st. In the middle of the pack are Royalton-Hartland (40th), Holley (45th) and Lyndonville (52nd). Kendall finished 82nd in the rankings.
The Sweet Home School District in Erie County had the highest ranking. The Canaseraga Central School District in northeastern Allegany County had the lowest.
• The school board heard a presentation by Athletic Director Randy Knaak on proposed tweaks to the school’s selective classification process, which is the method by which seventh- and eighth-grade students can earn roster spots on high school athletics teams,
The process is being updated to add several addition layers of review and formalize others, Knaak said, including his position becoming “more involved in the final decision” on whether a middle school student is ready to compete athletically with older students.
Knaak said middle school students account for about 35 roster spots on high school teams each year. Each currently goes through several steps, including a doctor’s review, an athletic ability test and in some sports a try-out, to make a high school team.
“This guarantees an opportunity to go through the process, not a guarantee they’ll make the team,” Knaak said.
While middle school students take up only a fraction of the spots on athletics teams, the decision to advance a talented middle school student ahead of older students is something to be scrutinized, Knaak said.
Board of Education President Margy Brown said the board will not act on the proposal on new members are seated next month.
”We need a full board discussion to move forward on this difficult decision,” Brown said.
Albion will hold its reorganizational meeting and its next regular meeting July 9.Contact reporter Jim Krencikat 798-1400, ext. 6327.