As the District navigates the un-chartered waters of the 2 percent tax cap requirements for the 2012-13 budget, one major obstacle of the teachers contract is nearly hurdled.
According to a statement from the Springs Teachers' Association, a tentative agreement with the board of education has been reached that would include salary freezes and benefit concessions totaling over half-a-million dollars in savings to the district.
School board president Kathee Burke Gonzalez said the half-million is for the life of the agreement, which will be five years.
This year, all municipalities are faced with a new issue of adhering to the state-passed tax cap levy of 2 percent. In Springs, where the budget is that translates to . The union savings have already been factored into that gap, according to Burke Gonzalez.
At a Saturday community forum, some 25 programs were discussed as possibilities for the chopping block during the ongoing process. Most chose to cut the half-day of universal pre-kindergarten.
"We sincerely hope that this alleviates some of the pressure that the recent tax cap legislation has placed on our school," the union said in a statement issued by co-president Amy Turner.
The teachers contract expired on June 30, 2010 and negotiations have been going on for about two years.
"In these challenging economic times, the teachers are particularly sensitive of the need to preserve the valuable programs for students at Springs School," the statement continued. "We want to assure the community that we have brought this awareness to the ongoing negotiations of our contract."
Burke-Gonzalez declined to comment further on the tentative agreement.
, where union leaders read an open letter to the board, Turner and co-president Nancy Olsen addressed issues such as staff cuts and asked for better communication between the union and the board.
Much of the concern centered around Superintendent Michael Hartner’s 11.8 percent pay increase and contract extension that he had received months earlier. Hartner, who makes about $190,000, is . The board has said it is committed to that would include a part-time superintendent, full-time principal and a new full-time assistant principal position.