VCSD pays out $850K as part of Northeastern Industrial Park tax lawsuit

NEW SCOTLAND — Voorheesville teachers on May 8 urged school board members to increase educator salaries, while later in the meeting the board approved the repayment of $850,000 in taxes to the Northeastern Industrial Park after the park had its assessment cut by 40 percent earlier this year. 

Justice Margaret Walsh on Jan. 3 lowered the collective assessed values of five parcels in the industrial park, once the home of an Army storehouse and now the site of over 20 industrial-sized buildings in one of the few remaining rural-suburban areas in town, from $72.8 million to $43.2 million.

The town of Guilderland, where the park is located, ended up negotiating a $45 million assessment. Northeastern had been seeking an assessment of $31 million. 

The largest of the five parcels is 289 acres located in the Voorheesville Central School District, which had been assessed at $27.3 million for which the industrial park paid about $522,000 per year in school taxes. 

With the new $16.7 million assessment, Northeastern will pay about $310,000 in annual school taxes on the parcel, with the difference being spread among the remaining district property owners. 

 

VTA

With their contract expiring at the end of June, a number of Voorheesville Teachers Association members attended the May 8 meeting as their president implored board members to raise salaries. 

The union is likely looking to avoid what happened during the negotiation of its current contract, when members worked for 18 months without an agreement.

Kelly Lendrum told board members when COVID shut down in-school learning, “we did not stop educating students. Our teaching had to look different, but we were determined to help our kids. Teachers, myself included, had to learn new technology to teach virtually and have continued to learn new technology and other techniques, techniques to keep students engaged and give them opportunities that they wouldn't have otherwise had.”

She then walked the board through nearly a dozen examples of teachers using technology in new ways to educate, like employing virtual reality headsets “to visit” concentration camps, the home of Anne Frank, “and other pivotal locations of the Holocaust.”

Lendrum said, “We are passionate, enthusiastic, talented educators,” but there are fewer individuals choosing the field of education as a career path. 

She said the average Voorheesville teacher salary is more than 9 percent below that of the average Suburban Council educator. 

“The Suburban Council schools are the schools that the district compares us to academically,” Lendrum said, “and we believe is who we should be compared to on our salary schedule.” Lendrum said, if the district is going to attract and retain passionate and enthusiastic educators, it needs to improve its salary schedule. 

Voorheesville is not a member of the Suburban Council, which includes 15 school districts located in the large suburban towns and cities of Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady counties, but rather is part of the 12-member Colonial Council, which is made up of smaller suburban, rural, and private city schools. The councils are formed for sports competitions.

The most recent state data compiled by See Thru NY, from the 2021-22 school year, shows the median annual salary of a Voorheesville teacher was about $73,550; only two of the Suburban Council’s 14 public schools had lower median annual salaries. Among the public schools of the Colonial Council, Voorheesville’s median annual salary is right in the middle — fifth out of 10. And compared to Albany County’s 11 other school districts, Voorheesville’s median annual salary is once again squarely in the middle — sixth out 12

While teachers’ salaries at Voorheesville are middling, the test scores of their students are among the highest in the area. The Suburban and Colonial council schools are spread across six counties that contain 50 districts. Voorheesville’s 2021-22 school year state math and English scores were second and first, respectively, among the 50 school districts. 

Lendrum said teachers’ only opportunity to seek a raise is through contract negotiations and they feel, with so many nearing retirement, “this is a critical time for Voorheesville.”

 

 

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