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Home Schools Rye Teachers Association Reach Contract with Rye City Schools

Rye Teachers Association Reach Contract with Rye City Schools


The following was just released to MyRye.com from the Rye City Schools:

Letter from Rye Board of Education President Josh Nathan re: agreement with Rye teachers on a new contract.

Full Memo of Agreement between the Board of Ed and and Rye Teachers Association dated June 9, 2010.

The agreement was accepted by the teachers Thursday and ratified at a special Board of Ed meeting this Saturday.

# # #

After protracted and sometimes acrimonious negotiations that began back in 2006, MyRye.com has learned the Rye Teachers Association and Rye City Schools have reached a contract. Rye teachers have operated without a contract since 2007.

MyRye.com is waiting the hear further specifics, but the contract highlights are as follows:

  • 6 year contract, retroactive to 2007-08 and runs through 2012-13
  • Salary increases in each year are 1%/2%/1%/2%/1%/2%
  • Proportion of health care costs paid for by the teachers starts at 8% in 07-08, increasing to 15% in 2012-13 
  • 3 new "half gates" or steps were added to the pay scale, effectively increasing the time it takes for a teacher to reach the top pay level from 15 to 18 years
  • 3 professional development days already allotted to teachers can be used on an hourly basis, for meetings, shorter training
  • No change in the length of the school day

What do you think of the contract settlement? Please leave a comment below.


  1. Looks generally favorable. But I don’t see that this cuts our currently unsustainable tax levies – it apparently just preserves them. So is there to be any real Rye City taxpayer relief – as in tax cuts? If there is then that’s great and the board should be commended. But if they’re simply banking on achieving their taxpayer savings from the wind up of their long hidden multimillion dollar litigation fiasco with The Osborn then I think they should level with the voters that this is the bet. Simply put – has the board set the table for a real tax decrease for Rye City homeowners?

  2. Congratulations to the teachers, the Board, and the City for settling the contract. There are a few other open contracts to be resolved, but this was the obvious big one. While I’m not a fan of retro pay (removes the impetus to settle), this looks like a reasonable deal all around.

    Ted – this was never about rolling-back taxes. To achieve that, teachers would need to take a compensation cut which is not going to happen for multiple, appropriate reasons.

    Trying to tie in the “hidden Osborn litigation” (not; costs are very visible as is the current appeal status. If you think otherwise, go to a Board meeting and ask for an update) to taxes is also a curious item. That litigation is all about making sure that a for-profit institution carries its fair share of the tax load. Without that litigation, our (and my) property taxes would be higher than they are today.

    If you’re really concerned about taxes, I encourage you to
    a. Keep your eye out on the pending, proposed bond
    b. The over-budgeting in a number of line items versus actual, historic spending included in the approved budget.

    Of course, if you really wanted to reduce taxes and spending, you could always argue for increased elementary school class sizes. Did I hear someone suggest 30/teacher? Hope not. That would be absurd.

  3. Bob without that litigation your and my taxes would be far far lower than they are today. Look at all those legal fees – millions and millions of legal fees. These dollars (invisible once again in the official 2010 BOE “Election Update”) would have gone straight into the classrooms and our seniors would have much much cheaper options for living at The Osborn. Is this a “fair” approach?

    Judge Carey had it dead right about the way these negotiations are customarily handled here and he has the experience in doing them successfully to back that up.

    Please tell me that the board is not actually going to make the case that after the huge jumps in spending (and everyone’s seen those charts right?) during the “good” years they have no plan – none – to reduce what has been widely criticized by the electorate as an “unsustainable level” of school tax levy’s. I figured they’d at least point to the legal fees and say – well “someday this war’s gonna end.”

    Many people are losing their homes here Bob – may not be you, may not be me – but there is a LOT of concern that Rye has past the point of no return and is fully unaffordable and of limits for many working people. And I don’t believe either of us wants that to remain the “appropriate” state of Rye.

  4. Taxes would not be lower without the litigation – at best, they’d be unchanged, but I believe they’d be higher. My reasoning follows (all figures subject to confirmation from the City Assessor and/or RCSD Business official):
    1. Without the City and School District having defended The Osborn’s attempt to undo the assessor’s finding that they are not a charity AND the valuation of their property, they’d be paying no property tax.
    2. Property tax paid by the Osborn is now about (I’m not 100% on this one) $1.3 million / year to the schools. Let’s assume about $1million / year since 1998. That means about $12million for the schools. The city and county jointly collect about $600k/year. Over 12 years, that’s another $7million or so.
    3. Total litigation costs are somewhere between $8 and $10million – you’d need to check with the Schools to get an exact number. On top of this, of course, the settlement for the first round of rulings needs to be added, although that is on appeal. That’s another $4-5million, although I believe the City hasn’t yet paid and so is accruing interest due The Osborn as a usurious rate.
    4. Taking “worst” case – $10+$5 = $15million “spending”. Tax collected is about $12 (schools) + $7 (county & city) = $19million. Last I checked, 19 > 15, but I went to school in Pennsylvania and so might have messed this up.

    Even if the litigation was a wash, when the litigation is concluded (all hope that happens soon), the Osborn will be paying tax to the schools, city, and county which, in excess of the litigation cost, should displace taxes to be paid by home owners. (Of course, that’s true ONLY to the extent that the taxing authorities don’t use this money to increase spending… that’s another thread).

    Please show me where my math is wrong.

  5. Thanks’ Bob – the litigation math here is likely to be vetted by other correspondents with more personal and granular engagement in this particular matter than me. But given your authorship I’m sure it’s a best and honest effort at accuracy. My thesis, shared by many many here, is that every dollar spent on such litigation is a dollar that leaves our City – leaves our classrooms, leaves our seniors, leaves us all. There is an effective, efficient, proven traditional way of avoiding such a pitting of local community interests against one another.

  6. @Bob-

    I always enjoy showing you where your math is wrong but I can’t today.
    This looks right to me.
    Besides the principle that a profitable business within our community should pay school taxes
    ( Social Contract 101 )
    there is also the clear economic gain to putting the Osborn on the tax rolls where it belongs.
    I find it amusing the notion that when the City of Rye and our School District attempt to collect taxes rightly owed by a large business in our community – and that business fights tooth and nail for years to avoid paying taxes – the ensuing “fiasco” is somehow the City’s fault and we should walk away from the legal battle.
    Can you imagine trying that with the IRS and see if they back down under pressure and let you keep your income taxes in your pocket this year?
    Not likely.
    Taxes are a fact of life. If the Osborn pays their fair share the rest of us pay less. Unless of course the school district squanders the money they will eventually collect.
    I attend school board meetings to see that that does not happen.
    The “seniors” who live at the Osborn by and large are wealthy and I don’t believe the Osborn dodging its tax obligations successfully will make the Osborn any more affordable to the working class.
    More likely it will mean greater profits for its owners.
    Most business people don’t reduce the cost of their product when they receive a tax break, in my experience.
    Yes, every dollar spent on litigation cannot be spent on education, but if we spend one dollar to bring in one dollar plus two quarters we benefit.
    We live in a far more litigious society today and the traditional ways are not always effective.
    I wish they were but where money is involved self interest often trumps the greater good.

  7. The point remains that either Rye does something to control its own fiscal destiny – or it apparently will be done for us – and to us.


    And please don’t just shoot the messenger, odious though he may be. Liberal Democrats are saying much the same.

  8. I appreciate your concern for the financial stability of “our town”. I share it. But the City and School District are attempting to get at the affordability issue.

    I won’t comment on City stuff, but your very concern about the sustainability of spending is why it took 3 years to get an agreement with the RTA. The contract just agreed is a significant improvement in affordability.

    Must more be done? Absolutely and it’s not that hard if one is willing to budget based on actual spending as opposed to anticipated spending that has historically not happened. But the rate of increase has slowed significantly despite significant increases in state-defined programs aka retirement fund contributions.

    So, while I appreciate the interaction and focus on fiscal concerns, I think it would be more useful to either present specific items to be addressed (something I will do in the fall as the current fiscal year actuals come in) or focus on the county and state spending. After all, we do seem to have a real problem with our own county representative supporting spending positions that are just unrealistic.

  9. This recently concluded RCSD/RTA negotiation is a huge win for the Board of Education and the citizen taxpayers of Rye.

    The wage settlement alone (@ +9% over 6 years, or 1.5% p.a.) must be 50% or so less, over a six year period, than wage rate numbers talked about at the beginning of negotiations.

    Receiving health benefit premium co-payments of 15% of costs by 2012 is another major victory and sets the stage for all other RCSD employee unions to follow suit. Over time this number must rise to industry-like co-payments in the 25% neighborhood.

    Now hopefully other Westchester School District Boards of Education will have the strength and fortitude of the Rye BOE in their current and future negotiations.

    It can be done as shown here in Rye.

    Stephen M. Feeney,
    Rye City School District
    Board of Education

  10. I don’t disagree with Morris’ thesis in its entirety – except the premise that NY relies on “welfare” from the federal government.
    I believe NY still sends a greater share of its taxes to DC than is returned in funds and services.
    In the 70s when Ford told NYC to drop dead, we were begging to get a little more of our own money back.
    That money tended to flow to those welfare states that voted republican.
    Low taxes + high pork seemed to be their winning formula.
    I could be wrong on this. I haven’t researched it, but this is how I recall the situation.

  11. So let me restate – many people are losing their homes here right now – may not be you, may not be me – but there is a LOT of concern that Rye has past the point of no return and is now fully unaffordable and off limits for many regular working people. I don’t believe any of us wants that to remain the “appropriate” state of Rye.

    Does this favorable news on negotiations allow the BOE to contemplate REDUCING the “currently unsustainable” (a view shared by many in the recent elections) level of tax levies?

  12. Ted – Not bloody likely. Until the number of teachers is reduced – through whatever method you choose – there will not be a reduction in spending which is a pre-requisite to holding taxes constant or reducing them. Programs added this year (Mandarin; additional year of Spanish in Elementary school). Funding added for two new sports (with the expectation of further increases to get to full taxpayer funding instead of the previous full parent funding. And clear opportunities to reduce the 900k increase by 300-600k were ignored. So, while voters in other jurisdictions may have voted to slow / rollback spending, the Rye community voted to increase spending and thereby taxes for the schools. It is, after all, the community’s choice and a majority are happy with how things are. The RTA contract will slow the rate in growth of spending, but it will not reverse it.


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