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Rochester Union, District Reach New Agreement

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The Rochester (N.Y.) Teachers Association and the city school district reached a tentative agreement last week on a new contract that preserves many of the school-improvement provisions of a contract rejected by the school board in January, but gives teachers smaller salary increases.

Under the two-year agreement, which would be retroactive to the beginning of this school year, teachers would receive raises of $3,183 for two years, an average of about 7 percent each year.

Union members were scheduled to vote on the contract last Friday. The school board had not yet scheduled a date for its vote.

The teachers' union and the district have been negotiating throughout the school year in an attempt to reach an agreement that would continue the New York district's nationally publi4cized emphasis on school improvement while preserving the salary gains teachers there have made since 1987.

In September, Rochester teachers rejected a proposed contract that would have tied salaries to job performance under a new evaluation system. (See Education Week, Oct. 3, 1990.)

And in January, the school board voted unanimously to reject a second contract, which would have given teachers raises averaging 27 percent over three years without tying the increases directly to job performance. (See Education Week, Jan. 30, 1991.)

Adam Urbanski, president of the r.t.a., said late last week that he believed the third contract, which was reached with the help of a state mediator, was "a fair compromise."

"It's been nine months in coming. I now know what it's like to be in labor," Mr. Urbanski said. "I hope this baby, unlike the other two, survives."

As did the January contract, the new tentative agreement contains a provision for withholding salary increases from teachers whose job performance is judged to be unsatisfactory.

It also calls for the creation of a joint union-school district task force to research and recommend a new evaluation procedure for teachers by May 15 of next year.

The task force would look at using the judgment of parents and community members and student "performance indicators" in evaluating teachers. It would also weigh whether teachers should be awarded "gradations of compensation" based upon their performance.--ab

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