Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 30 November 2012 00:00
The Mineola School District and the Mineola Teachers Association (MTA) finally ended an employee contract tussle, District Superintendent Michael Nagler revealed on Thursday, Nov. 15. The deal was ratified earlier that day.
Before the agreement was reached, the 275-member MTA had operated without a contract since June 30, 2011 but negotiations date back to 2010, Nagler said. An impasse was declared on Oct. 19, 2011 after negotiations broke down between the MTA and the district.
While there are no salary increases when a district has no agreement in place with a teachers group, Mineola still had to pay STEP increases, according to the Triborough Amendment in the Taylor Law. The law prohibits a public employer from altering any provision of an expired labor contract until a new agreement is reached.
Representatives from both sides met with impartial mediator Howard Edelman and relented on issues plaguing contract talks. The MTA, Edleman and the district had met on 10 occasions including April 17 and Aug. 23, reported first by the Mineola American, before agreeing to a new contract. Nagler indicated that the new 2 percent tax levy cap altered “traditional oppositional bargaining.”
The previous agreement in Mineola called for a 3.5 percent raise each year for the duration of that contract, with year-to-year increases between 1.5 and 2 percent. Teachers contributed approximately 15 percent to medical benefit costs. The ratification of the teachers contract is a first of five open contracts currently in the district.
In 2012-13, the teachers are deferring STEP increases for the first six months, staying at a 2011-12 salary. Starting Feb. 1, 2013, teachers will move up one STEP. Starting in the 2013-14 school year, teachers will get a .5 percent increase with STEP paid in February until 2014-15.
“The Mineola Teachers Association is pleased that we were able to reach an agreement in these difficult economic times,” MTA President Teresa Hafner said in a statement. “As always, we continually strive to provide our students with the best possible education so they can meet the challenges of the future.”
The new Annual Professional Performance Review Plan (APPR) and the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap factored heavily into contract discussions, according to district officials. Under the new APPR plan, 60 percent of teacher ratings would be based on classroom observations, 20 percent on students’ scores on state standardized tests, and 20 percent on a list of three scoring options.
That could include locally developed tests, exams offered by third parties or a simple doubling of the value placed on the state tests. School boards would have to negotiate the final 20 percent with local unions.
Any school district that does not implement the new APPR by January 2013 will lose school aid. Mineola instituted the plan in July.
“The levy cap in my opinion changed the way we negotiated,” Nagler stated. “Typically, we do what I call oppositional bargaining. You go back and forth, you both have a position you’re starting with and whatever that position is, and you try to justify it. The levy cap basically made it simple. You had to stay within 2 percent of all the monies so it cuts to the chase.”
Salaries, pension and health cost were clear-cut talking points during discussions, Nagler said. Year-to-year increases (STEP), percentage increases or column movement, which are monies earned for additional credits above a master’s degree, are three ways for salaries to increase.
Teachers in Mineola who were in STEPs 1-15 get 3 percent increases every year, which accounts for 43 percent of the district’s staff. Nagler indicated that 49 percent of teachers had had increases frozen in 2012, while salaries are frozen at steps 15, 20 and 25.
District officials stated that an overall STEP increase in the district is 1.5 percent of the duration of the deal. If the MTA didn’t negotiate and relied on the Triborough Amendment, it would have cost Mineola 6 percent for the next four years.
“They didn’t do that,” Nagler said. “They did make concessions not only in money but in language. So the total package is a settlement of 4.75 percent over four years.”
Saturday, 07 December 2013 00:00
Eleni Pitzel has lived in East Williston since 1975, having raised five children. Prior to that, she and her family lived in Floral Park. Pitzel is a longtime club member, and served as corresponding secretary for two years.
Pitzel has been the club’s art instructor for four years; she also teaches art at St. Paul’s Orthodox Cathedral in West Hempstead. “My artistic skills are a gift from God, and from that gift I give back to others,” Pitzel said.
Friday, 06 December 2013 00:00
A new proposal by interim Town of North Hempstead Supervisor John Riordan seeks to hike pay for elected officials. Riordan's plan would have board members’ salaries jump by $15,000 to a total of $55,000, an increase of approximately 37.5 percent. Other proposed salaries would be $138,000 for the supervisor, $115,000 for the receiver of taxes and $105,000 for the town clerk.
Riordan introduced the proposal at the last town board meeting, on Nov. 19, requesting that a resolution be placed on the agenda setting Dec. 10 for a public hearing to consider the adoption of an amendment that would enable the salary increases for the 2014 calendar year.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
MAA Travel Soccer teams wrapped up their respective fall 2013 seasons recently. Two MAA teams won titles this season in the Long Island Junior Soccer League; the BU13 Mineola Empire went 9-0-1 and the GU14 Red Bulls enjoyed a 8-1-1 campaign to each win first place trophies. The GU11 Honey Badgers went undefeated (6-0-2) and finished in second place in their division, as did the GU15 Mini-Mustangs with a 7-1-1 season record.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
The Mineola 12U fall intramural baseball team celebrated their fall season and tournament championship with a pizza party/awards dinner on Nov. 20. In addition to celebrating a great fall season and tournament championship, the boys were treated to an inspirational talk by coach Ken Conrade, the 2013 New York State High School Coach of the Year.
Conrade, the Kellenberg Memorial High School assistant principal for academics and girls varsity softball coach, was the keynote speaker for the awards dinner. He presented a very talked about baseball and youth sports.
Conrade’s talk was framed around each inning of a baseball game. He used stories and examples from the first to an extra “10th inning” to drive home both a sports and life lesson. For example, as part of the seventh inning stretch, he had each player stand up, stretch their legs and then go and thank their parents for their support and commitment to their baseball playing.