PUBLIC STATEMENT—APRIL 14, 2011
In response to the community’s concerns, voiced to the Board of Education, today the UTN made a reasonable proposal to the Board of Education which will preserve current student programs. The UTN asks the community to urge the Board of Education to resolve this stalemate and bring stability to our district for the next three years.
The UTN requests our neighbors to attend the Board of Education meetings and to urge the Board of Education to appear at, and settle, this negotiation once and for all. This settlement will save the school district millions of dollars to further increase their reserve funds from their current level of $22 million.
In year one of the settlement, the teachers of your District will work with a zero % increase to their salaries and no cash payment of step increment. This will save the district $1.66 million. As the teachers want to bring stability and continuity, a four year contract is being sought, to avoid dealing with a contract negotiation every other year. In years 2 through 4, the teachers presented the Superintendent of Schools a proposal which is measured to CPI. Thus, if the economy is not improving, the teachers will not get a raise, and more importantly, any raise is tied to what the economy dictates. In addition, also in year 2, there will be no cash payment of step increment. In year 3, the teachers have offered to cut their steps by 50%. Expected savings to the District in years 2 through 4 is $2.5 million. Finally, as noted below, like the rest of the community, the teachers are concerned about the tax certiorari lawsuit filed by LIPA seeking to reduce the tax payments made to the School District. As such, the teachers have offered the following contingency plan as part of the proposal to the District today:
In the event the LIPA tax certiorari case results in a tax revenue reduction to the school district of 80% or more, less any government funds to offset the reduction, in any year of the contract, the UTN will accept a 0% increase and no step for that school year, or the subsequent school year, at the discretion of the District.
In the event the LIPA tax certiorari case results in a tax revenue reduction to the school district equal to or greater than 50% but less than 80%, less any government funds to offset the reduction, in any year of the contract, the UTN will accept a 50% reduction in step for that school year, or the subsequent school year, at the discretion of the District.
In the event the LIPA tax certiorari case results in a tax revenue reduction to the school district equal to or greater than 25% but less than 50%, less any government funds to offset the reduction, in any year of the contract, the UTN will accept a 25% reduction in step for that school year, or the subsequent school year, at the discretion of the District.
All other provisions of the contract shall remain in full effect in order to preserve and protect all current programs for students.
“Teachers are taxpayers, too, whether it be here in Northport, or any other community on Long Island,” said Antoinette Blanck, UTN President. “We are fully cognizant of the current economic climate and are fully aware of the budgetary challenges faced by this and all school districts. In light of this, we are willing to forgo the payment of any salary increase and incremental step for the current school year and forgo step increment payment in 2011-2012. These concessions would save the District well over $3 million,” Blanck said.
Blanck also stated that the Union is seeking a panel review of any decision to fire a teacher who receives two consecutive “ineffective” annual evaluations. The District wants the Superintendent to be the sole arbiter of such appeals. “Once again, we are not being unreasonable in our request for a panel review of any decision to remove a teacher rated ineffective instead of giving one individual the sole power over a teacher’s career,” Blanck said, “This request seems more than fair to us, especially in consideration of the financial sacrifices we are willing to make for the good of our students and for the good of the taxpayers.”
Blanck said the United Teachers of Northport continues to stand ready, willing and able to continue negotiations with the District in an effort to reach a fair and reasonable settlement. However, she said, she would not allow Northport teachers to be vilified when the Union has offered financial sacrifices. “We remain proud members of a school community which values education and is supportive of our District’s many rich programs. Although parents and other community members are concerned about the District’s future, as is the UTN, we are confident that they will see the District’s position as divisive.”