Ending more than two years of negotiating, the United Teachers of Northport and the Northport-East Northport school district have approved a new contract.
Under the four-year pact, which is retroactive to July 1, 2010, and runs through June 30, 2014, union members are taking a hard freeze -- no salary or step increases -- for the first year. The remaining three years, members on the salary schedule are to receive step increases averaging 2.85 percent a year, but no salary increases.
Teachers at step 20 -- the highest step -- will be paid an extra $1,500 this school year, $1,650 in 2012-2013 and $1,800 in 2013-2014.
In addition, teaching assistants will be moved from a five-step to an eight-step schedule, giving them more chances for advancement.
The pact will require union members to pay 3 percent more for health insurance by the end of the contract. Teachers, who now pay 18 percent per year, will pay 21 percent by 2014.
The district will also reduce the amount of money it puts in the teachers' professional fund, and for the 2013-2014 year, teachers will be able to apply for salary increases in the spring for professional development, such as receiving new degrees.
United Teachers of Northport president Antoinette Blanck said her members passed the contract on Tuesday by a "considerable margin" -- 492 to 143. The contract covers teachers, teaching assistants and nurses, 751 union members in all.
"This is a fair and reasonable settlement that shows the membership's concern for the community and an understanding of the financial situation that we're all really a part of right now," Blanck said.
The board of education approved the contract at its Tuesday night meeting.
District Superintendent Marylou McDermott said she felt the contract reflected mutual respect among district officials, residents and union members.
"I do believe it is good for the members of the teaching unit as well as for the taxpayers," she said.The successful vote ended negotiations for a new contract that had been ongoing since February 2010.