We were dismayed to read the comments in the Port Washington School Board President's column, Port School Board Notes, in the Aug. 4 Port Washington News. In referring to "rumors" and "hot issues," Robert Seiden states that it has been "reported" that the teachers had left the negotiations table saying they "would not talk to us again until the end of August." The teachers did not walk out as Mr. Seiden suggests, but rather they followed the suggestion of the board's negotiator that a meeting later in the summer might be more productive.
The teachers had hoped that the board, in June, would finally present a monetary proposal that would have been the beginning of fruitful negotiations. However, the board's proposal made at that meeting provided that most teachers would actually earn less next year. The rest of the teachers would receive no increase at all. This did not seem to be a proposal designed to create good faith "productive" negotiations which would lead to an agreement. Perhaps the nature of this proposal was not accurately reported to the board.
Elsewhere in his column, Robert Seiden writes about two other issues that require comment. He states that he and Mark Marcellus have met with members of the community. This may be a good development. However, teachers, too, are members of the Port community. Many live in Port Washington themselves, and all spend a major part of the day working with and helping the children of the community learn and grow. The board president and vice president have apparently met with other community members to discuss negotiations, but they have not met with the teachers so that the board members can hear directly from them as to how a settlement can be reached. We invite the board president and vice president to do so as soon as possible.
The second point deals with a recent commendation that Weber Middle School received when it was recognized as being in the top 28 percent of New York State schools that are closing the achievement gap. Mr. Seiden does not comment on the role teachers and other school employees had in making this happen. Good schools require teachers who are recognized and appreciated. This appreciation comes through words and through deeds.
Port Washington teachers and their union are not the "enemy" as some would want the community to believe. We hope that Port's current board of education members will not become part of that group of people. All that Port teachers want is to continue to teach the community's children in positive working conditions that will make them and the children successful. In order to continue the progress of Port's schools and Port's children, teachers need a fair contract which will provide compensation and working conditions similar to those provided in surrounding communities and the rest of Nassau County.
Port Washington Teachers Association