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Freeport teachers agree to modify contract

Freeport High School in Freeport NY on Dec

Freeport High School in Freeport NY on Dec 18, 2003. Photo Credit: Joel Cairo

Freeport teachers have approved a contract modification that defers their total salary and step increases over two years and preserves jobs and programs that may otherwise have been cut.

Freeport Superintendent Kishore Kuncham said the deferment will help the district "temporarily for next year."

The deferral includes a scheduled 1.5 percent pay increase and step increase for a total savings next year of $2 million. The contract expires at the end of next year, and the deferral takes place over two years.

"As a result of this decision, the full-day kindergarten program, enrichment program and other programs which would have been cut will be restored for the 2012-2013 school year," Kuncham said. "All teaching positions scheduled to be cut will be included in the proposed budget except for those positions not filled due to retirement."

On Monday, members of the Freeport Teachers Association, in a second vote, accepted a proposal to modify their existing collective bargaining agreement by a vote of 75 percent to 25 percent.

Stuart Napear, president of the Freeport Teachers Association, said in a statement that this is the third consecutive year that the nearly 600 members of the FTA will have deferred some or all of their scheduled raise. In the last two years, the deferment of raises by FTA members has allowed the district to continue to offer more than $1.6 million in educational programming in Freeport, he said.

The implementation of the 2 percent tax cap this year, coupled with the significant loss of state aid in the last four years, has impacted the district's budget, Napear said.

"The members of the FTA recognize the critical need of the programming that is in place, and have sacrificed in the past, and again today, to maintain this educational programming," Napear said in a statement.

Kuncham and central office administration had earlier agreed to a second salary freeze for the 2012-2013 school year.

The teachers had rejected a proposal in March that asked to defer for one year two-thirds of the 1.5 percent salary increase guaranteed for 2012-13 in their collective bargaining agreement. Union members, who were in the last year of a four-year contract, would have also deferred a step increase for a year.

Officials in the 6,700-student district had been considering reducing full-day kindergarten to half-day; increasing class size; and cutting some sports and enrichment programs. They also had been looking at cutting at least 20 teachers.

"I think one of the reasons the last vote was negative was there was some confusion about what was being offered," Napear said Tuesday.

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