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An article in last week's Port Washington News reported on the challenges that will be faced in the schools in September because of space issues. Needed portables and modules will not be in place until later in the year and, according to the superintendent of schools, "We'll need a lot of cooperation from staff, parents and kids."

In the same article, the superintendent explains that negotiations with the teachers for a new contract, "admittedly, because of the facilities bond work ... got off to a later start this year." He comments that the district is making progress in negotiations "though it's not likely to be ready by the beginning of school."

But why not? We believe that it is still possible for the board of education to arrive at a contract with the teachers before the beginning of the school year. During a year when "a lot of cooperation from staff ... is needed," the teachers should not be held hostage to facilities bond work. This should not be the year when, for the first time since the advent of teacher negotiations in 1968, Port Washington begins the school year without a contract with its teachers.

We were very happy to read in the same article that Dr. Inserra reported that he expected the board to conclude a settlement with the custodial and maintenance staff "within a week or so." Certainly the cooperation and expertise of these workers is essential to the success of the bond work, as well as to the everyday functioning of the schools and we are gratified that the board is recognizing this with the settlement of a timely contract before the beginning of the school year.

Teachers deserve no less. We hope that the board of education will recognize this and do everything necessary to achieve a contract for 2001- 2002 with the teachers before the school year begins.

Mary Anne Cariello


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