Regular health insurance is almost a thing of the past for administrators in Buffalo Public Schools.
Superintendents hired after July 2023 will not be eligible for state-funded health insurance after retirement, according to a new contract approved this week by the School Board.
“It’s important. This is what the district pursued in the last two contracts,” said Robert Boreanaz, attorney for the Buffalo Council of Supervisors and Administrators.
Over the years, Boreanaz said, Buffalo has been one of the few counties in New York State that still offers health insurance to retirees.
Managers hired before July 2023 will remain eligible for retiree health insurance.
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Those hired after July 2023 will have the opportunity to sell back to the province up to 120 days of unused service to use their insurance money after retirement.
Teachers in Buffalo still receive retiree health insurance. The Buffalo Teachers Federation is currently negotiating with the state to get a new contract. Union President Phil Rumore said the district hopes to negotiate an end to health insurance for teachers.
“Every union has the right to do what they think is best for their members,” Rumore said. “But I believe it’s against everything that unions stand for, to give new members to existing members.”
The management union represents 200 officials, assistant officials and Central Office administrators.
“This agreement benefits both parties by eliminating the pay gap between elementary and high school principals, improving health care, in addition to promotions and signing bonuses,” said School Board President Lou Petrucci.
Until recently, primary school teachers were paid less than secondary school principals.
“Many years ago, primary schools were much smaller than high schools, and had fewer students. It’s not like that anymore,” said Boreanaz.
The agreement results in a sudden increase in the amount that managers must pay for their health insurance premiums. Former directors will pay 10% of their earnings, and new directors will pay 16%.
The agreement also brings an increase in wages.
This summer, managers will receive a 10% raise, including the stairs. Then, over the next three years, they will receive a 3% raise, plus steps.
Boreanaz also said that the previous management contract, which ended in 2017, expired almost two years ago.
The executives will also each receive a one-time bonus equal to 7% of their annual salary for agreeing to the new agreement.
The management union met with district officials 13 times in 16 months to hammer out the terms of the new contract, he said. Much of the progress toward implementing the agreement was accomplished a few months ago under Superintendent Tonja Williams, Boreanaz said.
“Without a doubt, the Buffalo School District officials and administrators are looking forward to the new head and working with and supporting the new superintendent,” he said.
Now that the administrators’ union has been resolved, Petrucci said, the board can focus on establishing a teacher union.
“Contracts are about more than dollars; new contracts help the district to address changes in operations and profits,” he said.