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February 2020

Call to Action

Dear friends and colleagues,

Despite having settled our contract dispute, our union needs to address some issues with the board and administration. Discipline and the resolution of referrals (or the inability to even write referrals) is a problem. A situation was raised with regard to the HS student newspaper.  A student journalist wrote of a student as having been caught numerous times vaping, but no consequences were meted out., according to the student. There is a failure to address student behavior, and kids know it. We'd like to  outline a behavior "matrix" that all teachers/principals follow (grade level specific) to include a Threat Assessment plan that teachers may take part in. Other issues to be addressed (at least at high school level) is to reevaluate the co-curricular job descriptions and pay scale. .At the last board meeting it was brought up that our state aid for next year is 1.6 million dollars below what we need to keep a flat budget. It was mentioned that cuts will be made: larger class sizes as well as cuts in extra-curriculars were specifically mentioned.
We have decided to convene an action committee to use our collective voices to demand change. It will not require a huge commitment, but it needs many of us to participate. 
Remember that WE are the union; it is not just the building reps and executive committee. We are more powerful when we are united. Please email me if you would be interested in becoming ACTIVE. Enjoy the break and come back ready to organize!

January 2019

Negotiations Update:

As you know, the District and your Negotiations Team came to loggerheads in November and felt we were headed toward mediation (an outside person comes in to help us come to agreement.)  In conversation after the Thanksgiving break, the Team and the District agreed to try a form of “Interest Bargaining” where we discuss the reasoning behind our proposals in hope that by sharing these thoughts we can come to agreement. We have two meetings planned, February 4 and February 11, for discussion. We hope to share progress soon.
…just an aside, if this process does not help move the process forward, we will need to engage a mediator to assist both sides move toward an agreement. Both teams have a desire to finalize the contract before the end of the school year. 

Elementary Configuration:

Early February is when the District anticipates announcing teacher assignments for next year. As you know, a reduction in the number of sections was recently announced. One question raised (among many) is why seniority is not used to make these placements. Under NYS Labor Law, seniority is used to prioritize layoffs. The employer retains the right to assign teachers to positions as they wish. Over the years, Cortland subscribed to the belief where student mastery of content was best achieved by faculty who remained at a particular grade level or content area for multiple years. Many districts throughout the state reassign faculty on a pretty regular basis in order to “keep you fresh”; obviously morale is pretty low in those locations. In the next 1-3 years a large contingency of faulty will be retiring, allowing for positions to be reassigned following our contractual procedures.

New Positions created

The District can create new positions and their job descriptions, whenever they feel the need to do so. The District has chosen to create “some” coaching positions (both student and teacher variety). When creating positions, the District retains the right to write the job descriptions tailored to their needs. (The Union does not have input on the positions/descriptions) These positions were created to retain our valuable staff until staffing and “needs” come into balance. (see above)


New investment vehicles:
The Union and the District have a shared interest in helping our members save for retirement. As you know, we participate in the NYS Teachers Retirement System (NYSTRS). We are some of the lucky few who have a defined benefit in retirement (we are guaranteed the monies!).
 Although your “business” expensed will be reduced/eliminated in retirement, your personal expenses might rise (I plan to travel quite a bit, so I know I’ll need extra $$) So, I started a 403b saving account.  If the District had the 457b option available earlier, I would have also taken advantage of this opportunity as the “cost factor” is much lower than standard 403b accounts. Please take a look at the following article for more information. As you can see, you can start a 457b with as little as $10.00 a pay period-much less than I spend on a night out with my friends. So PLEASE, look into this and get started today!



Saving For Retirement

The District encourages employees to save for retirement. Payroll deduction opportunities are available to make it easier to save:

403(b) The OMNI Group assists the district in offering employees 403(b) retirement savings options. To begin a 403(b), the first step is to contact one of the listed preferred providers to set up an account. Once the account has been established, you may complete a Salary Reduction Agreement with OMNI, who will in turn notify Payroll to start the payroll deductions. A new SRA can be submitted at any time to update your withholding amount. Click here to access the OMNI Group’s resources page where you can learn more and find enrollment forms. 

  • Deferred Comp: The District is now a participating employer with NYS Deferred Comp, and employees may enroll at any time. This is a 457(b), a voluntary retirement savings plan offered by the State of New York to help public employees reach their retirement savings goals. Funded via pre-tax payroll deductions with at least $10 per pay, new employees may begin participating as of his/her hire date, and there are no minimum or maximum age requirements for eligibility.
  • 2019 Maximum Allowable Contributions Limits (MAC): The IRS has announced the 2019 Maximum Allowable Contribution (MAC) limits for 403(b) and 457 plans. Elective contribution limits have increased from their 2018 levels. The elective deferral limit for 403(b)/457 plans will now stand at $19,000. Employees can defer $19,000 to each type of plan in 2019 plus any of the following applicable catch-up contributions. Employees age 50 and over will be entitled to contribute an additional $6,000 to their 403(b) or 457 plan(s) thereby increasing the elective deferral limit to $25,000. Individuals with at least 15 years of service with their current employer may be entitled to contribute up to an additional $3,000 above their age-based limit, potentially increasing the limit to $28,000 for a participant utilizing both the age based and the full amount of the service based catch-up provisions.


For additional information, please visit the Health Insurance and Benefits page, emailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call 607.758.4122, or stop by the Kaufman Center to chat with Jen Storey.


As we start second semester, I wish you all much personal and professional success. Remember to take time to care for yourself…goodness knows we need you. 





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