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June 19, 2013

Newfane district declares impasse with teachers

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — NEWFANE - A mediator will be brought in to help contract negotiations between the Newfane Central School District and its teachers union, following the district’s declaration of an impasse Tuesday.

Board of Education Trustee Patrick Kilcullen, who served on the district’s negotiating team, said there were five issues separating the sides with healthcare costs being the biggest. Among the other issues were salaries, coaches evaluations, work day structure and time off. 

Healthcare has an extreme effect on the Newfane budget, Kilcullen said, as retiree healthcare liability is the single largest liability Newfane has. It exceeds the value of the district’s outstanding bonds and its net value of building and equipment.

“It’s an extremely significant component and presents a challenge to the district’s long-term financial stability,” Kilcullen said.

Under the current formula, a percentage of health insurance is paid for retirees until they reach 70 years of age. But to get to that percentage, the formula is unused days off divided by 200 then multiplied by 100.

For retirees with 200 unused days, that have 100 percent coverage until 70. Those with 230 days will have 100 percent coverage until 73, while those with 400 unused days would have complete coverage until they hit 90. One couples plan, assuming a 10 percent increase per year would cost Newfane a total of $196,986 over 10 years.

The NTA offered to change the divisor in the formula to 210, reducing the percentage for those retirees with 200 unused days to 95 percent. Those with 400 days would have complete coverage until they turn 88 years old.

The district countered with a proposal that links accrued leave days with the percentage. Those with less than 150 days would receive no coverage from the district, while those with up to 300 days would receive 100 percent coverage for 10 years. For every day over 300, the retiree would receive the daily rate according to step 1 of the master schedule, which is $209 per day.

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