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OCSD increases starting salaries for maintenance workers

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OGDENSBURG — Ogdensburg City School District board members approved raising starting salaries for district maintenance workers and mechanics by nearly $10,000 Monday.

The increase, as part of a contract with the Civil Service Employees Association, which represents secretaries, buildings and grounds staff and teaching assistants, included a starting salary of $35,000 for building maintenance workers and $36,000 for mechanics.

Superintendent Timothy M. Vernsey said starting salaries were previously set at about $25,000 to 26,000.

“It was way, way low,” Superintendent Timothy M. Vernsey said. He deferred additional questions about the increases to board President Ronald N. Johnson.

“We had to raise that,” Mr. Johnson said. “I mean they are skilled positions. “We’re talking about heating and air conditioning, and plumbing – guys that have gone to school and work their tails off and actually have some marketable skills. They were way underpaid.”

Maintenance workers and mechanics now employed by the district would receive “standard raises,” Mr. Johnson said.

The three-year contract also includes general salary increases that average about 2.4 percent for the life of the contract. Employees will receive a $2,000 raise for 2013-14 school year. Salaries will freeze for 2014-15 and increase by $1,000 for the 2015-16 school year.

As a money-saving measure, a $9,000 retirement bonus was eliminated for all new hires in the agreement. Current employees still will receive a $9,000 lump sum upon retirement.

“That will benefit the district significantly down the road,” Mr. Vernsey said.

Retirement benefits from the state retirement system will not be affected, he said.

“That is just the incentive lump sum, and not in any way tied to their actual retirement benefits,” Mr. Vernsey said.

New hires also will be required to make contributions to their health insurance at the start of their retirement, according to the agreement. Previously, employees did not have to contribute to their retiree health plans.

The level of contribution will be determined by the amount they contribute on the last year of their employment with the district, Mr. Vernsey said.

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