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Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011

Berkshire Union Free School District, Teachers, Staff Agree on Cost-Saving Measures

Deal freezes salaries and modifies some benefits through 2011-2012 school year

For more information, contact Keith Toomey 518-781-4567 ext. 2542 or via email.

Canaan, NY – March 22, 2011 – The Berkshire Union Free School District (BUFSD") and the Berkshire Teachers Association (BTA) have agreed to amend the collective bargaining agreement in effect since July 1, 2009. The teachers agreed to freeze salaries at current levels and to modify the health insurance plan with increased contributions, in order to eliminate a projected financial deficit facing the district. The BTA approved the amended agreement on March 2, 2011. The BUFSD Board of Education ratified the agreement at its meeting March 17. The deal will save eight positions that were in jeopardy of being eliminated.

"We took this step to save as many positions as possible in order to maintain a high quality educational program that meets the needs of our very diverse learners," said Tom Mavilia, of the BTA. "We appreciate the open and trusting relationship that has been developed with the school administration," he added.

The district’s administrators also volunteered to take a salary freeze and health insurance modifications prior to the union vote. In addition to the teachers, all work groups, including Behavioral Support, Clerical, Business Office, and Maintenance, have agreed to the same terms.

"I am so pleased that our union has the courage to embrace the concept that we are one organization with a common mission," said Bruce Potter, BUFSD Assistant Superintendent. "This action is consistent with the direction that our entire organization is taking regarding decision making that is in the best interest of our students."

"Our success is the result of a strong partnership between the school district, our teachers, and our staff," said Timothy Giacchetta, President of the BUFSD Board of Education and the CEO at Berkshire Farm Center & Services for Youth. "This is a great example of how we all work together, even in tough economic conditions, to create meaningful solutions so we can fulfill our mission of providing the best education for our students. I am proud to be associated with these truly committed individuals," he added.

BUFSD is an accredited "Special Act" school district and is located on the residential campus of Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth, one of New York State’s leading statewide, not-for-profit child welfare agencies. Berkshire Farm Center was founded in 1886 and provides life-changing experiences for some of the state’s most traumatized and at-risk youth.

Last month, the New York State Education Department released its yearly report on the performance of school districts across New York State, ranking Berkshire Union Free School District (BUFSD) as a district in "Good Standing." BUFSD’s achievement is significant when compared to other Special Act School Districts. Only Berkshire UFSD made its Annual Yearly Progress in ELA at both the elementary/middle and secondary levels.

In addition to residential-based therapeutic, recreational, and educational services (including BUFSD) for youth at its Residential Treatment Center in Canaan, New York, Berkshire Farm Center provides a broad array of statewide community-based prevention, group home, and foster care programs for thousands of New York State’s most vulnerable children and their families.

This year we celebrate our 125th anniversary! For more information, contact Keith Toomey 518-781-4567 ext. 2542 or via email.


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