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Opinion

Can trust or a measure of good faith between the school board and the teachers of Port Washington be established again? The persistent dialogue by ideologues who believe fairness is not part of the bargaining process in finalizing a new teacher's contract has left teachers shaking their heads in disbelief. There are many issues the community has been sheltered from because as professionals we took very deep breaths, put our best effort forward and maintained the equilibrium of a school system in tumultuous transition. The BOE never explained how working conditions at Schreiber, Weber and many of the elementary schools exposed both teachers and students alike to hazardous/unsafe environments because the ongoing construction was not closely monitored. When health issues developed, they were not immediately addressed. Why, because every bureaucracy has a chain of command and every contract has fine print which must be legally clarified before appropriate action can be taken. The community was not informed about the NYCOSH (New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health) study Schreiber teachers were forced to fund because the school district had complete faith in reports provided by the construction company which benefited from an iron-clad contract that guaranteed payment in full. The study clearly identified 15 health infractions. Who questioned the consultants about their recommendations? Please check out the heating/air conditioning system in the new wing at Schreiber, did the taxpayers get what they paid for? Anecdotes from many staff members could be made available to bear witness to how harmful these conditions were (some still are) on a daily basis in and outside of the classroom. It is truly a shame our professionalism and dedication is challenged every time the community believes it is experiencing an economic downturn. Property values are still rising and most economic indicators suggest the community is not suffering from widespread unemployment. If there is real concern over what is deemed to be excessive costs, please go after the record breaking profits of the oil companies or demand an accounting of what type of oversight took place to monitor the bond funded construction. Consider the exodus of American jobs abroad and the surge of foreign nationals eager to help US companies race to the bottom. Who is guilty of Greedonomics, teachers who watch over the welfare, education and aspirations of the children entrusted to our care? No, we simply ask for a fair contract, one that reflects cost of living increases already granted by comparable surrounding districts. Can this community afford to boldly broadcast Port Washington teachers are valued less than their neighboring counterparts?

Harry J. Andersen

Grad of Schreiber

Port teacher for 36 years


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