School district custodians ink new contract

By Chris Eberhart

The Rye City School District Board of Education announced on Nov. 12 it had come to terms on a new contract with the district’s 24-member custodial unit that runs through the 2015-2016 academic year.

The Rye City School District’s custodians have a new contract that will include, among other things, minimal salary increases over the next two years. File photo

The Rye City School District’s custodians have a new contract that will include, among other things, minimal salary increases over the next two years. File photo

As part of the new contract, the custodians’ salaries will remain flat through the first year, which is retroactive to the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year. After that, the custodians will see increases of 1.25 percent in 2014-2015 and 1.50 percent in 2015-2016. The increases will begin in January 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Board of Education president Laura Slack said the negotiations went well, and she was happy to get a deal done despite a restrictive tax cap, which mandates the amount that a school district or municipal government can levy in taxes.

“In a tax cap environment, the administration is limited to how much we can raise salaries,” Slack said, “We’re very happy with the negotiations with the custodians, and we’re happy with the contract.”

According to a statement released by the school district, the contract allows for “savings in the future years by reducing health benefit buyouts and requiring the same percentage contribution toward health insurance premiums in retirement for new employees.”

As part of the new agreement, custodians will not be paid seniority during the 2014-2015 school year, but will still receive the seniority service credit. They will receive the seniority pay that they’ve collected during the 2015-2016 school year.

“The district made every effort possible to work with all members of the unit,” said Gabriella O’Connor, assistant superintendent for business. “This agreement will help manage growth in salary costs, which comprises a large portion of our annual budget.”

Salaries alone—not accounting for pension or healthcare contributions—made up more than $40 million of the school district’s $76.7 million 2013-2014 budget.