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Story - News

Mar 7, 2013 11:31 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Teachers Reject Proposed Salary Freeze

Mar 13, 2013 1:35 PM

The Westhampton Beach Teachers Association, the union representing the district’s nearly 200 educators, has rejected a hard salary freeze requested by Board of Education members—a move they said would have saved the district more than $1 million next year and preserved all current teaching positions and programming.

Susan Kearns announced late last week that the union would not agree to the board’s terms, even though that decision will most likely result in the district laying off at least a dozen teachers to stay under the state tax levy cap. She attended Monday night’s board meeting and stated that the district has rejected two proposals pitched by the union in recent weeks that would 
have helped close the budget gap.

Ms. Kearns, who was supported by approximately 30 teachers and parents who were sitting in the audience, said her union members cannot be asked to accept an across-the-board salary freeze next year, and she blamed Board of Education members for contributing to the economic hardship by not taking their proposed deals.

On Monday, the board announced approximately $90,000 in cuts to the athletic program, nearly $13,000 in club costs, and another $32,000 in transportation costs. The district is also planning to combine classes and cut teachers. It still needs to shed several hundred thousand dollars in expenditures if it does not want to pierce the cap.

“What is important to note is that some of the programming cuts that may ensue are fully beyond our control and are not dependent upon the teachers taking a hard freeze,” Ms. Kearns said while reading a prepared statement on Monday. “There are indications that the district may make program changes that would result in program cuts regardless of what teachers may or may not agree to.”

Last week, Ms. Kearns said the teachers still want to work with the district to bridge the budget gap, but without a complete freeze of teacher salaries 
and step increases. Next year, district teachers are scheduled to receive a 2-percent 
increase in salary and an average 3.5-percent increase in steps—for a combined 5.5-percent increase.

But according to Board of Education President Suzanne Mensch, the savings from the proposals offered by the teachers union—which only included some cuts in salaries and steps—is far from what the district would be saving with a hard freeze. She also pointed out that the teachers are seeking to extend their contract, which expires in June 2014, as part of their proposals, and explained that the board is not in a position to extend the union contract at this time, citing the issues arising from the tax levy cap.

District administrators, janitors and clerical workers have already agreed to similar across-the-board salary freezes for next year, though those will only save the district a fraction of what could be saved if the teachers accepted a similar one-year agreement.

Ms. Mensch again stressed that the district is in a difficult position, stating that all of the forthcoming cuts will be painful.

“While I don’t have someone who is taking Latin or American Sign Language right now, I do have someone in the high school who is taking art,” Ms. Mensch said, alluding to some of the coming cuts. “I have children in the middle school who participate in middle school sports, and I have elementary students that will be facing bigger class sizes as a result of some of these discussions.

“These have real impacts to me and I want you all to hear that, that I am not taking these lightly by any means,” she continued.

On Wednesday, Schools Superintendent Michael Radday explained that, just like the other unions that have agreed to the freeze, the teachers union was offered a “job security provision in exchange for a salary freeze.”

“Specifically, the board guaranteed it would maintain all full-time, encumbered teaching positions for 2013/14 if the union agreed to the freeze,” Mr. Radday wrote. “The stumbling block has been that every proposal presented by the teachers included a contract extension with terms that would exceed the constraints of the tax cap. The board cannot put itself in a position where compensation costs will outpace the allowable tax levy growth over the long term, because doing so would require ongoing program cuts in order to pay for salaries and benefits.”

The board is expected to adopt its proposed 2013-14 budget sometime in April, and the public referendum is in May.

On Monday night, Mr. Radday outlined where the district is looking to make cuts if an agreement cannot be reached with the teachers union, as now seems to be the case. Before diving in, he stressed that the district does not want to make the cuts, explaining that its hands are essentially tied.

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Other districts froze. What makes you so special?
By ba (50), speonk on Mar 7, 13 11:59 AM
3 members liked this comment
Not surprising. Why would they make any sacrifices! It goes with the territory.
By sayitaintsojoe (100), Westhampton on Mar 7, 13 12:16 PM
To the School Board. Remember with your statement about "funding the programs" that its the tax payers who fund the programs whether it comes directly from the area tax roles or the State aid or lack therof. Its time the Teachers Union gets in step. Stay strong against them.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Mar 7, 13 12:23 PM
Whe gets guaranteed salary increases? When asked you are told "well thats what was negotiated". Glad to see they did not want to extend the contract. Hold tight. Cut staff. Everyone for themselves!
By The Real World (368), southampton on Mar 7, 13 2:39 PM
We all are making less if they don't like it fire some of them. Unfortunately it punishes lower paid newer teachers while the older pigs continue at the trough. Another example of why unions and state education doesn't work. Look at the bright side you might not have enough teachers but you have a multi million dollar football field.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 7, 13 2:53 PM
"older pigs"?

You're a class act, chief
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 7, 13 4:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
Amen. I have friends losing jobs left and right and unions want guaranteed salary increases? Increases....now? Unions blow my mind....and you read my mind about the football field. Ridiculous.
By getalife (61), Southampton on Mar 20, 13 11:51 AM
so sad, new high school children looking to go to West hampton high will second think going, or at the very least their parents will. I say don't back down to the union, there has to be some "reality" with these teachers as well. It's a real shame all around, 13 teachers 13 TEACHERS! Remember teachers who will not be cut, you too were the "newbies" at one time, and how would you have felt if your fellow teachers did not care about YOUR job...
By LI native (127), east moriches on Mar 7, 13 2:55 PM
To the teachers - stay strong! These people with their unkind comments - they have no idea how dedicated you are and how much work you put in. They should try it some time; I think they would be singing a different tune.
By Jean3795 (5), westhampton on Mar 7, 13 3:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
20% of the people do 80% of the work. Yes, there are some very hard working, dedicated, teachers who are terrific. These are the 20% in the school system.

The union represents the other 80% of the teachers who only do 20% of the work.

Unions were important when Pinkerton's bashed heads and bosses were out of control. The pendulum swung the other way, and unions got out of control (see Detroit crushed by UAW)

I have great sympathy for the terrific teachers who are ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Mar 19, 13 9:33 AM
i guess if you disagree with the union position you have "no idea" and you are unkind. No one is questioning how hard teachers work, you are missing the point. Times are tough for everyone, except apparently if you're a well tenured teacher in WHB.
By treehugger (10), whb on Mar 20, 13 11:23 PM
There are many hardworking people out there who arent only not getting raises but are losing their jobs completely. I think Jean has been living under a rock?
By ba (50), speonk on Mar 7, 13 4:30 PM
2 members liked this comment
No, scaly, slithery things lives under a rock, so that's unfair.

Jean3795, who is probably closely related by blood or marriage to a teacher, likely has her head under the covers and is out of touch with the larger realities of today's economy.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 7, 13 4:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wrong, Frank Wheeler - not related by blood or marriage. Get in the classroom for a year and then let me know what you think.
By Jean3795 (5), westhampton on Mar 9, 13 6:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
Teachers won't comply, then it's an easy decision where to make cuts.
By kpjc (161), east quogue on Mar 7, 13 5:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
Schools like the FD get a budget of x per year, to keep it simple lets just say its 1 million. So when it come close to the end of their fiscal year and they look at their books and see they only spent 800k they will waste the other 200k just to show they spent their 1 million a year budget . They do this because if they only spent 800k for that year they only get that much for the next year and cant ask for more money, So how much did the school and FD waste of the tax payers money so they dont ...more
By tookatz (83), westhampton beach on Mar 7, 13 5:43 PM
Are you sick of highly-paid teachers? Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – baby sit! We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 ...more
By whatapity (106), Tuckahoe on Mar 7, 13 6:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sure, as long as they fund their own retirement and health benefits, don't get paid sick leave or personal time, I'd say that's a deal. Does the taxpayer also pay their medical benefits after they retire? Frankly, I'm not arguing their salaries.. just pointing out the flaws in your analysis.
By diy_guy (101), Southampton on Mar 20, 13 7:10 AM
Teachers? Lets talk TECHNOLOGY. I find it hard to believe not once in this article is the word "laptop" mentioned. I am a recent graduate of WHBHS, and I find it safe to say that the high school did a VERY poor job preparing me for college. I don't blame this on the teachers one bit, as I have close relationships with many of them, and they were awesome mentors throughout my 4 years there. I solely blame it on the laptops we are given. Ask any student their thoughts on the laptops, and they'll tell ...more
By cnk (1), East Quogue on Mar 7, 13 8:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
By LI native (127), east moriches on Mar 7, 13 9:18 PM
CNK I think you're very brave to speak out about the laptop issue. I have a middle school child and I think the laptops are absurd! My child is not learning how to study and take exams that like you say will prepare for college. Instead she knows how to pass a state exam so the school looks good and she knows how to make a podcast, which I'm sure will take her far in life.

I can't believe the teachers are not willing to sacrifice for the sake of educational programs. I wish I was ...more
By Eliza (29), Westhampton Beach on Mar 8, 13 9:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
Really, you are a cheater, who CHOOSE to use the technology given to misrepresent yourself. You need self restraint and perhaps parents that were involved enough to limit its use at home as I do. Maybe we should question the character of the student who cheats and not blame it on the technology. I can guarantee that if you go to ESM you would find cheating there too and they aren't given laptops.
By Skolofhardknox (1), Remsenburg on Mar 20, 13 12:05 PM
Is the Super majority unconstitutional? Why does it take 60% to pass a budget over 2%? ...Years pass and the Pigs learned to walk upright , carry whips and wear clothes. The seven commandments are reduced to a single phrase. " All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Everyone should jump on the Bandwagon..There was a time when everyone thought the world was flat....
By sag runner (24), Easthampton on Mar 7, 13 9:15 PM
My son is a senior in WHB and he says they don't use the laptops for anything...except for games and other stuff that doesn't pertain to school
By Jaws (245), Amity Island on Mar 8, 13 2:38 AM
2 members liked this comment
how are his grades?
By just breath (82), yuck on Mar 9, 13 7:54 AM
@just breath~his grades average in the low 90's and will be inducted in the internation technical honor society ;)
By Jaws (245), Amity Island on Mar 11, 13 11:13 PM
Great! Glad he's taking so many AP classes.
By LI native (127), east moriches on Mar 13, 13 8:27 PM
The Tao of Technology....the BOE and community have a dichotomous moral judgement...On one hand the image of an advanced school with all the bells and whistles...All the members of the board and its administrators sure look good with the MAC books in those pictures.. I think it makes them look really smart....On the other hand keeping teachers that interact with the students...Can technology foster a child? Guide them through difficult times? Coach them?Give them a smile when they need it?
By gas nurren (4), Noyac on Mar 8, 13 8:09 PM
Fire teachers, cut programs.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Mar 10, 13 5:50 PM
For what reasons Lucy? Just fire teachers, cut programs? At least give some reasons why. At least most on these boards with an opinion one way or the other through some of their own logo into their posts. Not just post a few angry words with no backup.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 10, 13 6:55 PM
I am not angry, but I am now confused,

"through some of their own logo into their posts"?

What are you trying to say?

I will expand on my statement:

To cut expenses you fire teachers and cut programs.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Mar 15, 13 1:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
I meant logical explanations. Autocorrect is a blessing and a curse. You don't fire the teachers, you look for a way to compromise and save the money.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 19, 13 7:28 AM
The pay freeze IS the compromise.

We want a 5% pay cut, retroactive to 2009.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Mar 20, 13 7:30 AM
2 members liked this comment
Just for reference, a freeze these days is a pay cut. My wife's schools took a freeze last year, and with new taxes and insurance premiums, her paycheck is actually less than it was 2 years ago at this time.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 20, 13 2:04 PM
As it should be.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Mar 20, 13 6:29 PM
As it should be why? You never seem to back up your statements, you just spew out ridiculousness like a retroactive pay freeze. Where did you even pull that out of. I'm all for the teachers to accept a freeze. It's what they should do for the good of the community.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 20, 13 6:57 PM
How much do the laptops cost the district each year?! Cut that expenditure first. Is there waste or redundancy in the superintendants' department? Cut that next. Teachers should take a pay FREEZE, notice the word freeze, not cut, if there's nothing else to cut. Not that difficult people.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 11, 13 7:59 AM
I agree with the freeze. Just for people who complain about teachers and their guaranteed raises, my wife is a teacher who agreed to a freeze last year, and with all the higher taxes and deductions, her paycheck is actually smaller than it was 2 years ago.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 12, 13 8:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Laptops are a necessity in today's world and often cheaper than text books. When a child goes to college they will be working almost exclusively on computers. Education cannot always be about the bottom line, especially when politicians would rather cut school funding and complain about teachers instead of focusing on the real issue: extreme income disparity and a failed system of funding schools with property taxes.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Mar 13, 13 1:30 PM
2 members liked this comment
It's the UNION that won't agree to the freeze, I'm sure the teachers individually, would come to a different decision.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 13, 13 8:05 AM
1 member liked this comment
I know that. I was agreeing with you that a freeze the the best road for the teachers union to take.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 13, 13 1:06 PM
If teachers make less money with no raises then the unions don't make more money. The unions are killing us!!! Westhampton students already pays for their AP classes!!!
By LI native (127), east moriches on Mar 13, 13 8:26 PM
So is it fair that Mr. Radday is getting a 20,000 pay raise?
By casden (5), westhampton on Mar 13, 13 9:53 PM
It was clearly stated at the meeting on Monday that Mr. Radday is taking a pay freeze next year, along with all of the other administrative, custodial, and clerical personnel in the district. Any assertion otherwise is simply untrue.
By coach (4), Westhampton Beach on Mar 14, 13 10:43 AM
1 member liked this comment
Clerical, custodial work their BUTTS OFF for far less pay than the teachers. Some work year-round. They are truly the backbone of the schools. To expect that they should take a pay freeze but the teachers should not is simply asinine!

As someone else mentioned, there are other districts where teachers are taking a pay freeze. In the district where I work, the teachers are taking a THREE YEAR PAY FREEZE. I'd also like to know what makes the teachers in WHB think they're so special!
By Miss K. (103), East Quogue on Mar 18, 13 11:10 AM
1 member liked this comment
In light of all that is going on, I attended a board meeting because my daughter goes to this school. I understand both sides with the financial situation that everyone is facing. But is it true that if the teachers take a freeze that it will save all the teacher jobs that are on the being cut?
By NorthRd90 (7), Southampton on Mar 14, 13 11:02 AM
By LI native (127), east moriches on Mar 14, 13 9:43 PM
Freeze ALL district employees for a year and during that time come up with a budget that's responsible and reasonable for both the employees and the taxpayers. Come on people, it's not that hard, businesses do it every day, live within your means.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 15, 13 7:45 AM
Three of the four bargaining units in the WHBSD have agreed to salary freezes. According to the Triborough decision these three units will be frozen until they can agree to a new contract. What reason would the BOE and Superintendent have to EVER negotiate another contract with these people? Their salaries will be frozen FOREVER. The one bargaining unit remaining without a freeze is the only hope for WHBSD employees to ever get a contract in the future. Hang tough teachers!!!
By wizzs (5), westhampton on Mar 15, 13 9:38 AM
Well said, wizzs. Most people have absolutely no understanding that the real failure of our schools can be blamed on massive income disparity and a failed policy of funding through property taxes. Blaming teachers is easy and that is why the laziest and most ignorant always fall back on that old canard.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Mar 15, 13 10:31 AM
2 members liked this comment
Not only do I like your comment, I LOVE it.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 15, 13 12:00 PM
So true, people do not understand what is at stake here!! The teachers are the only reason students do as well as they do...it's not the teachers folks!!!!
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on Mar 15, 13 3:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Interesting, because when they don't do well, it's always the parents' fault.
By diy_guy (101), Southampton on Mar 20, 13 7:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
Think back to when you were a kid. If you didn't study and got a bad grade, whose fault was it? These days, parents make a million excuses for their kids.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 20, 13 2:02 PM
Lets see here...The BOE has made the absolute... our offer or nothing..whereas the union has made two offers that were denied..When both parties are in negotiation, a compromise is usually the end result...The teachers are the engine that runs the school all others are for support...After this contract expires it will not be until the 2% tax cap ends before anything else is negotiated...
By sag runner (24), Easthampton on Mar 17, 13 7:24 PM
The 2% tax cap is neccessary to protect the taxpayers, you know, the ones who are paying for EVERYTHING in the district. A one year freeze for all district employees seems reasonable, as long as the waste and excess beaurocracy can be cut during that time.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 18, 13 7:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
Teacher's watch out.

Fool with the educational program, and the district will lose tuition students.

Lose tuition students and you will be in a world of hurt from which the Board of Education can't bail you out. (At about 20K per tuition student you don't have to lose too many before the pain will really be felt).

If you think the freeze is unfair and if you are unyielding, you are setting the stage for the decimation of the district.

Let community members ...more
Mar 18, 13 11:08 AM appended by Publius
If sending district's leave, the first place to cut will be teaching staff because we won't need to have multiple sections of the same class. Yes taxes go up some for fixed costs, but the decimation will be for the teacher's union to explain to their rank and file. No, the tuition amount is the actual cost of education, maybe expensive, but the cost of the district is carried equally on a per / student basis.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Mar 18, 13 11:08 AM
1 member liked this comment
... actually Pubilius, if they "fool with the educational program" you are correct, the district will lose tuition students from the sending districts. You, as a WHB taxpayer, will get thrown off the gravy train previously funded by these over-charged districts. You will be left holding the bag and the photo to be taken is not of the "unionized malcontents" but of you opening your tax bill, because you will be left funding what is left of the district.

Need I say, be careful what you wish ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Mar 18, 13 12:25 PM
1. It isn't a "gravy train" tuition students pay their per capita share, no more.

2. If tuition students go, union members will be first cut as class sizes are decreased.

3. Taxes will go up, but that is not as bad as being an out of work teacher.

Union needs to get a real world perspective, or it will get a real world perspective.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Mar 18, 13 2:39 PM
Let the teachers go- My taxes are going up anyway and will ultimately be less without all the teachers. Also, possibly we can consolidate the schools and close one and sell the other off. Better all around for taxpayers in the long run. The population on LI is decreasing. It would be wise planning now to start eliminating some teacher position. The back of the union needs to be broken!
By realistic (472), westhampton on Mar 18, 13 3:30 PM
Realistic, your post illustrates that you really have no idea what you're are talking about. "Consolidate schools"? WHB is a feeder school and receives students and TUITION from outside of the district thereby lowering the taxes of those who live in Westhampton.

It is always the most ignorant among us who so revile educators.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Mar 19, 13 3:37 PM
2 members liked this comment
You are the ignotant one. Less students= less teachers= less need for school buildings and adminstraters= less taxes. Much of the district is also supported by the Summer people paying the taxes and not taxing the school system. Dont think its just the feeder students supporting this school.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Mar 20, 13 12:04 PM
Like Chris Christie said to New Jersey teachers if you don't like your jobs quit. When there are openings for a teaching position we literally see 500 to 1,000 applications for one job. If WHB teachers want to leave we can replace all of them literally in 24 hours at far less money. Who are teachers serving besides themselves?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 19, 13 1:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
"Who are teachers serving besides themselves?" Obviously not you.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Mar 19, 13 3:29 PM
No one is saying they don't like their jobs. And apparently you got nothing out of school, if you think teachers are only serving themselves.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 19, 13 5:50 PM
It's a shame that the firings resulting from the teachers' refusal will not be made on a lottery basis rather than last in - first out. The result of the vote would have been quite different. The most disgraceful aspect of modern unions is the willingness of the majority with seniority to sacrifice the jobs of the vulnerable minority to their own acquisitive self-interest.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 19, 13 6:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
Spend, spend, spend. That's right 25k a student is not enough we need to spend more. If you don't agree with the teachers you are ignorant, and know very little. Do it for the kids that' s what the union is there for. Seriously if the teachers don't like a freeze they can resign like everyone else in the world that doesn't like their jobs. There are thousands of unemployed teachers that will gladly fill their place. It's time to consolidate school districts
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 20, 13 9:02 AM
Unbelievable. It's leadership at the union level like this, who give unions and subsequently teachers a bad rap. Lesson learned younger teachers, a majority of your union does not care about you. Community members take heed, your teachers care alright, about themselves. Meanwhile, you have "dinosaurs" who should be retired, making WELL above $100,000 still teaching and who do not have to contribute any amount to their retirement (Tier I and Tier IIs). Not a bad gig teaching 2-5 classes / day / 180 ...more
By treehugger (10), whb on Mar 20, 13 11:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
The teachers union are willing to eat their own- they believe they are entitled to ever increasing compensation, regardless of the economic conditions around them and a CAP. Take a pol of taxpayers in WH, see how the median income compares to the teachers, and see how many people have a defined-benefit pension plan and full medical benefits for life.
By bayarea (46), hampton bays on Mar 21, 13 9:45 AM
I used to respect teachers. No longer. Charter schools on Long Island. I would send my kids to a non-union school in a heartbeat.
By Jess9090 (4), southampton on Mar 23, 13 6:38 PM
What is it you don't respect about teachers?its not all teachers who are unwilling to accept a freeze. Plenty of other schools have done it.
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 23, 13 7:43 PM