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BTF approves new agreement for BPS teachers

Buffalo Schools
Posted at 8:00 PM, Apr 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-24 23:24:28-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Teachers Federation overwhelmingly approved Monday a new agreement between the federation and Buffalo Public Schools.

The vote officially ends four years of negotiations between the Buffalo School Board and BTF.

On Friday, April 21, the BPS Board of Education unanimously approved the agreement that was reached on the BTF contract.

An investment of $243.6 million over four years will raise the average salary for teachers from $72,000 to $91,000 by 2026.

Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams released a statement following the vote:

This is great news for our teachers and the Buffalo Public School District. This landmark agreement not only makes our teachers some of the most highly compensated in the region, but it was done in a way that will preserve the District's strong financial position for years to come. The agreement also prioritizes our students and families by permitting much-needed reform with bell times and the hiring of athletic coaches. As established by this vote, all 11 contractual agreements have been successfully ratified by the District’s employees, which further demonstrates our commitment to respecting, retaining, and recruiting a highly qualified workforce for the Buffalo Public Schools.”
Dr. Tonja Williams, BPS Schools Superintendent

The new agreement will include the following details:

Bonus, Wages and Salary Table Compression

  • July 1, 2019 — August 31, 2022: 0%
  • Effective September 1, 2022: 8%
  • On July 1, 2023, an additional: 6% (remove Step 20)
  • On July 1, 2024, an additional: 4% (remove Step 18)
  • On July 1, 2025, an additional: 3% (remove Step 16)
  • The agreement states that retroactivity is on salary only and other forms of compensation will be increased by 8% upon ratification of the agreement.
  • The removal of three salary steps over the term of the contract reduces the number of steps from 27 to 24.
  • Active teachers at the top step as of July 1, 2023, July 1, 2024 and July 1, 2025 will receive a one-time $1,500 stipend.
  • All active, full-time teachers will receive a one-time 10% bonus based on new salary and active adult learning center teachers will receive a one-time bonus of $1,000.
  • Retirees are eligible for one-time payments between $1,000 and $2,000 depending on retirement date.
  • Average salary will increase over the term of the contract from $72,000 to $91,000.

Other negotiated issues

  • $1,000 annual stipend for teachers with bilingual extension providing instruction in class where extension is required.
  • Increase in petty cash allotment to $10 per pupil with increases of $2 per year in 2024 and 2025.
  • Addition of a 30-minute prep period for adult education instructors and advisors.
  • One-time payment into the BTF's supplemental benefit (dental/vision) fund of $175,000. Increase per teacher payment to $650 with increases of $25 per year in 2024 and 2025.
  • Formation of a committee to make recommendations to address the social/emotional wellness of students.

Athletic coaching and programming

  • Effective upon ratification, the BTF/District Athletic Committee will meet as soon as possible but no later than 30 days after ratification.
  • The committee will make recommendations on improving the district's athletic program and the hiring of coaches.
  • If an agreement is not reached on a recommended MOU by June 20, 2023, the MOU attached to the tentative agreement will take effect.

Bell time adjustments

  • For the 2023-2024 school year, the district may change the starting and ending times at school to accommodate savings on bus routes and improve transportation of students pursuant the following conditions:
    • Teachers will be notified of any change on or before June 1, 2023.
    • Upon notifications, teachers at the impacted schools will be placed at the top of the transfer list for the upcoming year based on seniority.
    • Unless agreed to by the faculty and the impacted schools, no other changes within start and end times will occur.
    • Start and end time changes will be no more than 30 minutes with the exception of schools that currently start at 9 a.m. which may change up to 45 minutes under the condition that they move to an earlier start time. Bell times are projected to be 7:30 a.m., 8:15 a.m. and 9 a.m.
    • The starting time shall begin no earlier than 7:25 a.m. and end no later than 4:20 p.m.
    • Teachers' hours of service will not exceed 7 hours and 15 minutes
    • Prior to the change, the district agrees to hold a community meeting at each impacted school to receive feedback.

Future elimination of retiree healthcare

  • Effective June 30, 2026, newly hired teachers will not be eligible for district health insurance in retirement.
  • Those hired after June 30, 2026 and not eligible for district health insurance in retirement shall be able to use monies contractually provided to a teacher for "selling back sick days" and/or early retirement incentive towards the cost of healthcare premiums in retirement.
  • No impact on active teachers
  • If approved, retiree health insurance will have been removed from all relevant collective bargaining agreements.

Health insurance combinations

  • Beginning July 1, 2023 contributions from active teachers and future eligible retirees are:
    • 2022-2023 (current) — $600 single and $1,500 family
    • July 1, 2023 — $750 single and $1,750 family
    • July 1, 2024 — $850 single and $1,9000 family
    • July 1, 2025 — $950 single and $2,050 family