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Herricks teachers to pay 25% of health insurance premiums

An exterior of Herricks High School in Searingtown,

An exterior of Herricks High School in Searingtown, July 13, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

The Herricks school district and its teachers union have a new four-year contract under which the educators pay 25 percent of their health insurance premiums in the final year, officials said.

That contribution to health insurance -- one of the highest among districts in Nassau County -- applies to both individual and family plans, Superintendent John E. Bierwirth said Friday.

The Herricks Teachers Association approved the contract on June 30, and the school board gave its OK a day later.

"We felt it was important that we negotiate . . . and in negotiations you make sacrifices and gains," association president Nidya Degliomini said Saturday, noting constraints on the district from the property tax cap and unfunded state mandates.

The accord, which took effect July 1 and runs through June 30, 2018, freezes salaries for 97 percent of the teachers in the first year, the school board said in a statement. Across the life of the contract, there is an average step increase of 2 percent.

There is a 1 percent salary increase, plus half of the amount of any step raise, in the second and third years. In the fourth year, there is a 1 percent salary hike and a full step increase.

Step increases are linked to individuals' years of employment and educational attainment.

The teachers association agreed to lower starting salaries for newly hired teachers and a hard freeze on compensation for extracurricular and co-curricular activities, the board said.

Because health care costs continue to rise, the board has prioritized lowering its insurance bill, Bierwirth said.

"It's a very substantial impact on the budget," he said.

Unlike Herricks' contribution for teachers' pensions, which is set by the state, health insurance premiums are one area the board can negotiate, and the latest increase follows previous hikes, he said.

Degliomini said raising teachers' share of health insurance premiums "was a huge concession for us . . . It was one way that we could give back, and we were willing to do that."

The board has had less success in reaching a new contract with teachers' assistants.

That contract expired on June 30, Bierwirth said. Both sides declared an impasse, so the matter will go to a mediator.

There still is another year left in Herricks' contract with secretaries and custodians.

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