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Feb 26, 2013 11:19 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Asks Its Teachers To Accept Salary Freeze

Feb 27, 2013 1:13 PM

The Westhampton Beach Board of Education is still attempting to negotiate an across-the-board salary freeze with the district’s teachers union for the 2013-14 school year, after reaching similar agreements with its clerical, custodial and administrative staffs, in order to keep spending under control without sacrificing programming.

Board member Gordon Werner warned during Monday night’s meeting, the second held so far on next year’s proposed budget, that the board could be forced to slash more than 10 teacher positions next year if the union representing the district’s 198 educators will not agree to a one-year freeze on all raises, including step increases, next school year. The teachers are set to receive 2-percent raises next year, as dictated under their current contract, and typically receive additional estimated 2-percent raises for their step increases, depending on their level of education.

The district could save just over $1 million next year if the Westhampton Beach Teachers Association agrees to the one-year, across-the-board pay freeze, according to district officials.

Schools Superintendent Michael Radday also shared that unless it can come to an agreement with the teachers union, the district would still be forced to make considerable cuts to its educational and athletics programming, as well as extracurricular activities, in order to stay under the state mandated tax levy cap that limits the amount a school district can raise property taxes in one year.

On Tuesday morning, Westhampton Beach Teachers Association President Susan Kearns said her teachers have been working with the district on a weekly basis to come to an agreement for next year, adding that it is a complicated process.

“We are trying to do what is in the best interest of everyone,” Ms. Kearns said, adding that the union is willing to work with the district. “That is why we are spending so much time talking.”

Mr. Radday said the board will need a final decision from the union within the next few weeks, but for now is moving forward with the budget process under the assumption that there is no such agreement in place. Ms. Kearns said her union will decide whether or not it will accept the pay freeze as quickly as possible.

“The sooner, the better,” said Ms. Kearns, who noted that the union has given similar concessions in the past.

Two years ago, she said her teachers forfeited half of their scheduled 2-percent raises when asked to do so by the Board of Education. The union offered the same deal last year, to help with the budget process, but their offer was rejected, according to Ms. Kearns.

“Certainly, any effort on the part of the teachers to assist would be a direct savings of programs and opportunities for kids,” Mr. Radday said about this year’s proposal.

Based on the agreements with its clerical and custodial staffs, which agreed to hard freezes on their salaries and step increases next year, the district will save an estimated $115,000, officials said. The union representing administrators agreed to similar terms, though Mr. Radday could not immediately say how much those concessions would save the district.

But in exchange, the district has agreed to not lay off any employees in those three unions next year. Therefore, any personnel cuts that have to be made will come from the teachers union, officials said, unless the teachers agree to the pay freeze.

The memorandum of agreement between the district and unions also extends the separate contracts for administrators and custodians, both of which were set to expire on June 30, 2013, but are now valid through June 30, 2014. On Monday night, Mr. Werner and fellow Board of Education member Jim Hulme, citing the expiring contract, said they were hesitant to approve an extension for the district’s administrators.

Mr. Werner said he did not see any financial benefit in agreeing to the salary freeze with school administrators, explaining that they were not scheduled to receive raises next year. He also said such action would limit the board’s ability to trim staffing, if necessary, next year.

Though both he and Mr. Hulme opposed the agreement with the administrators, Board President Suzanne Mensch, Vice President Halsey Stevens, and members Dr. Gregory Frost, Bryan Dean and George Kast Jr. all signed off on the measure.

The board unanimously approved the agreements with the custodial and clerical unions.

Although their contract was set to expire, the district’s custodians were still scheduled to receive step increases for service next year, according to Mr. Radday. The board’s agreement with their union will save the district approximately $45,000 next year. The contract with the clerical union is also valid through June 30, 2014, and the pay freeze will save another $70,000, according to district officials.

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"Measures of Academic Progress, or MAPS, testing that is now necessary as part of the district’s Annual Professional Performance Review plan, as mandated by the State Education Department. The MAP program will cost the district $25,876, according to Mr. Radday." This ridiculous, harmful, unfunded mandated was SUPPORTED by our representatives in Albany! It was pushed on us by the Obama Administration and Governor Cuomo. This obsession with testing, MAPS being one of many, is not only costing ...more
By Richard Blumenthal (13), Westhampton Beach on Feb 26, 13 5:13 PM
Ah, the vicious circle of inflation, debt creation, money printing, and the endless need for more, and more money. You know what I didn't learn in school? That receiving money stimulates the same reward process in the brain as drugs like cocaine. Just think about that for a while, as you consider the behavior observed in our society.

But, just remember that our "powers that be" are "creating wealth".

At least we know that we're lied to, even if there's little to be done about ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Feb 27, 13 6:08 AM
1 member liked this comment
Well said.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Feb 27, 13 7:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
Interesting interrogative segue on said note:

Have we left the crackheads in charge?

I think, I think maybe we might have...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Feb 28, 13 3:30 PM
I would like to see the School Board address the performance of the teachers and know why these kids come home and speak about watching movies in their class instead of learning. Think about it- a french class watching Schreck- and not even in French. One example.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Feb 27, 13 7:49 AM
1 member liked this comment
Westhampton students out perform their local counterparts in almost every area of academic excellence.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Feb 27, 13 8:40 AM
Shrek 1? 2? or 3?

hate to think they were shown the weakest of the lot....
By Hambone (514), New York on Feb 28, 13 10:04 AM
1 member liked this comment
Possibly- but- how will they compete in word arena. This is what they have to think about- not even mentioning some of the Nassau County Schools which are consistantly at the top of NY standards. Betcha they are not watching these movies. Out performing locally is simple. Dare to be the best.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Feb 27, 13 2:09 PM
These schools have had a fixation on building these multi million dollar sports fields and gyms. They always find money for some new ipad or AV equipment, but teachers would raise the cap. I think it's time some teachers get raises, some get demoted, and some get fired. This would be just like the real world, and add some accountability. Believe me I rarely stand up for teachers, but this one size fits all teachers pay is nonsense.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Feb 27, 13 7:51 PM
3 members liked this comment
Couldn't agree more. Better performance and results should result in better pay. No that makes to much sense lets give everyone the same pay regardless of performance. With unions and tenure to protect you where is the incentive?
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Feb 28, 13 7:01 AM
Chief, I agree with you on the fixation with spending money on sports to the detriment of education. I also agree that good teachers should be paid more, the only question is how to judge a teahcer's success, which can often be subjective.

As for AV equipment and computers - these are extremely necessary tools because to ensure success in college and beyond and well worth the investment, especially as they often cost less in the long term than traditional teaching tools like text books.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Feb 28, 13 8:51 AM
Sans corporea insana capitis.

Athletic activity is just as vital as academics. Especially considering the obesity epidemic in this country. Many of my fellow alumni moved on to college via athletics, and the scholarship money it brought them. You don't have to become a professional sports player, for physical activity and the spirit of competition to be a positive factor in your life. As a matter of fact, the amount of neurons in the brain are directly tied to muscle mass, and physical ...more
Feb 28, 13 4:02 PM appended by Mr. Z
"A sound mind in a sound body."
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Feb 28, 13 4:02 PM
"insana"

Quite the Freudian slip?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Feb 28, 13 5:29 PM
Mens sana in corpore sano . . .

Back to school Z with Miss Schrader perhaps?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Feb 28, 13 5:34 PM
As usual you always have something bizzare to say on every subject. First off the obesity in children isn't because of lack of exercise. It's parents not giving a damn what their kids eat, and letting them play video games all day. No one ever said to cut athletics, but multi million dollar fields in tight times is not a good idea. We need good teachers not teachers with excuses for bad performance. By the way waiting for an athletic scholarship is ridiculous considering less than 2% receive them. ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Feb 28, 13 7:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
Pardon me PBR, I missed the spacebar; "in sana", it's idiomatic.

You assume a "full ride", chief?

Scholarship money doesn't mean everything is paid for. But since you want to talk statistics we won conference championships consistently in track and field, and football. No one went to a Div. 1 school, but many did garner a couple bucks toward their education, especially from our track team. That conference championship was pretty much annual. Heck, the football team has won ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 1, 13 6:48 AM
Of course, but I had a good laugh still. To think that the only thing between "sana" and "insana" is a little space . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 1, 13 7:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
Now I see where Mr Z is coming from. An prior athlete. The schools are for all children not just the athletes. Chief is correct on the percent earning athlethic scholarships and why kids are out of shape today. The schools first priority is to teach. They are there to learn. Not for the dream of being a sports star which by the way the percentage of population getting this is way less then 2%. If the Athletes want more money spent on the sports programs let them pay for it privately. Why use my ...more
By realistic (472), westhampton on Mar 1, 13 7:25 AM
Actually, PBR I've been wracking my brain over this this morning, and I had to think back over 20 years to remember this. The way it was written as an idiomatic double negative. It was one of the mottos of the Roman gladiators, which were many.

As for realistic, there must be a balance struck between athletics and academics. Both have positive things to teach the youth.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 1, 13 8:29 AM
The phrase I put above is what Google says.

"Mens sana in corpore sano."

Have a good weekend, both "mens sana" and "corpore sano."
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 1, 13 9:43 AM
When your opponent sets up a straw man, set it on fire and kick around the cinders. This tactic is one of the most common of fallacies. It becomes endemic in politics, ethics and religion. Some in the audience may exit before intermission. Creating a red herring is an art form.
By sag runner (24), Easthampton on Feb 28, 13 8:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
a salary freeze is better than a pay cut. they can live with that
By Jaws (245), Amity Island on Mar 1, 13 3:38 AM
The union will eat its young. The majority of the teachers who know they cannot be laid off because of seniority will say they are not agreeing to a pay freeze based on some perceived principle, ignore their junior teacher's plight, and vote in their own best financial interest to not freeze their pay.
By WS (9), Westhampton Beach on Mar 1, 13 9:05 AM
3 members liked this comment
Not true. East quogue last year accepted a pay freeze in order to not lose any young teachers. Bridgehampton as well I believe.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 1, 13 10:33 AM
Fire more teachers and cut more programs. That is the answer.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Mar 3, 13 7:27 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 3, 13 7:34 PM
Let's see what happens this year in East Quogue. Wanting to piece the tax cap is rolling the dice which is apparently what the board of education intends to do. It will be up to the East Quogue taxpayers to vote on it. Given the voter apathy in East Quogue I would take the odds that the 2% tax cap will be pieced. The little community of East Quogue care little that many Americans have lost their lives for their right to vote. Sadly, this has become the norm.
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Mar 4, 13 10:47 AM
The schools should file bankruptcy, and hire a private firm to run them, hire teachers, and be responsible for performance. Most taxpayers are worse off then 4 years ago, and are sick of higher taxes. The nonsense going on now isn't going to work much longer. The taxpayer is TAPPED OUT
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 1, 13 9:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yeah, privatize schools, that's the answer. Give me a break! Put a for-profit corporation in charge and see how quickly our education system deteriorates. Public Schools are what makes America great! You don't want to pay school taxes - move!!
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Mar 8, 13 9:29 AM
Management of many is the same as management of few. Its a matter of organization. A torrential stream tosses boulders but a hawk can break the back of a rodent with one swift move.The BOE was split accepting one of the offers???Any individual has an agenda. Rarely do you find a virtuous individual allowing their agenda to go by the wayside. Strong emotions can subvert rational thought and they know that. .... The feeder districts are watching....Tactics without strategy is noise before defeat.
By sag runner (24), Easthampton on Mar 1, 13 5:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
In a school that is top heavy with administrators,how about THEM taking a salary CUT!!!
By bayview (160), Southampton on Mar 4, 13 7:33 PM
2 members liked this comment
This issue highlights the problems of having unions in the public sector. In the real world there are no guaranteed raises just for staying on the job for a certain period of time, especially without performance criteria.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 5, 13 10:10 AM
No guaranteed raises in "The real world"? Maybe not in your world, bigfreak, but every single industry that needs quality employees has built in raises, bonuses and incentives and teachers DO have performance criteria. You don't care, because your main goal is to bash educators, but facts is facts, bro.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Mar 8, 13 9:31 AM
1 member liked this comment
Huh, I thought we were in the real world. It seems to me that there are quite a few professions besides teaching where you are guaranteed raises for staying on the job for a certain period of time. Police, railroad, iron workers...... If you are able to secure one of these types of jobs, good for you.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 5, 13 6:27 PM
Not bashing educators at all, just looking out for those paying the bill! In these difficult times we are all tightening our financial belts, our employees should do the same. No one is asking for a reduction in pay or benefits , just a freeze on PAY INCREASES. Nothing wrong with that.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 8, 13 10:47 AM
Nonsense. You said, "In the real world there are no guaranteed raises just for staying on the job for a certain period of time" and that statement is, simply put, bs. If this article were about anyone other than someone in a union you would be praising free-market capitalism.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Mar 8, 13 12:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
The statement is accurate. There are no guaranteed raises.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Mar 8, 13 5:02 PM
Your statement is inaccurate. There are quite a few jobs in the real world with guaranteed raises. Maybe your job doesn't have them, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 8, 13 5:12 PM
No according to the article they do have a contract with a 2% raise next year... Try reading...
By gas nurren (4), Noyac on Mar 8, 13 6:36 PM
Name one.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Mar 9, 13 4:53 PM
Superintendent of schools s non union
By gas nurren (4), Noyac on Mar 9, 13 7:41 PM
Police. Just about any union job. Do you want me to name all the union jobs? That's a lot of typing.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 9, 13 5:04 PM
Name one non union job.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Mar 9, 13 5:47 PM
You didn't ask me to name a non union job. You said no guaranteed raises exist in the real world. Like it or not, union jobs do exist in the real world. Unicorns don't exist in the real world. That I will not dispute.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 9, 13 7:53 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 9, 13 5:05 PM
And that's why unions don't belong in the public sector. In these challenging economic times it seems as if the school boards are negotiating contracts without any regard to those who are actually paying ALL the bills, the taxpayers. Time to hold the line , let the district cut some of the fat and beauracracy(sp) instead of taking it out on the teachers. How much do the laptops cost per year?!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 10, 13 8:28 AM