Amherst Teachers Association negotiates small salary increases for 2017, 2018

District sees clear cash picture, no new operating levies through 2020

By Jason Hawk -

After weathering frozen salaries, 1.75 and 2.25 percent raises are coming to Amherst teachers in 2017 and 2018.

The extra cash will come from insurance-related savings to the school district.

Drastic changes to coverage last year resulted in $1 million in savings. A concession pushing spouses off workers’ policies cut costs by another $300,000.

“That’s put us in a position where we can do this and we know we’re financially stable through at least 2020,” said superintendent Steven Sayers.

“When we passed our last levy, we said we wanted to keep all our services and go five years without having to ask for more, but we also wanted to do better than that. We knew if we could work with our staff we could find some real savings like we’ve seen with our insurance. These concessions have helped so much,” he said.

The agreement has been ratified by the Amherst Teachers Association and was approved Monday by the board of education in a unanimous vote.

In the same meeting, district treasurer Barbara Donohue briefly outlined her five-year financial forecast, which is submitted twice each year to the state.

It shows the Amherst Schools not only stretching their money, but growing it to an estimated cash balance of $12.5 million by 2020 – that is, if voters pass renewal levies and if the state holds out on further funding cuts.

It’s difficult to project five years down the road, Donohue cautioned, though the state requires school districts to try.

“As you all know, the state budget only goes out every two years and it changes every two years,” she said in frustration.

What appears to be a housing market turn-around will help the schools with property tax collections.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

District sees clear cash picture, no new operating levies through 2020

By Jason Hawk