NEW MILFORD -- Town Council member Pete Bass lauded the New Milford school administrators and Board of Education this week for "coming through in these difficult economic times."

On Monday, the council approved the binding arbitration contract agreement reached by the New Milford School Administrators Association and the Board of Education in November.

"We asked you all to do what you could and you did it," Bass said.

Under the agreement, administrators' medical insurance premium cost share increases over the three years of the contract, going from 17 percent in 2011-12 to 19 percent by 2013-14. Dental insurance benefits have a ceiling of $1,000 per insured person.

Administrators also agreed to a freeze on salary step advancements in the 2011-12 school year. Advancements were kept to just one step increases in pay in both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. That means an elementary school principal's salary -- staying flat at $107,554 in 2011-12 --would be eligible to increase by $4,623 in the second year and then by an additional $4,857 in the third year of the contract.

"The board is extremely pleased with the results and appreciates that the administrators were cognizant of the present economic climate," said Wendy Faulenbach, education board chairman.

"The negotiations have been very productive and the bargaining units have been sincere and cooperative," she said. "The fact that the agreement has been accepted by the Town Council is a very good thing for the town."

Superintendent of Schools JeanAnn Paddyfote said she was "pleased" with the outcome of the arbitrations.

"The administrators did a very good job assisting with this," she said.

For Mayor Patricia Murphy, the results of the arbitration showed "everyone's good faith in not only providing a quality service to the community, but in providing it at an affordable price," she said.

Contact Susan Tuz at stuz@newstimes.com or 860-355-7322.