Lindenhurst and Board of Education Member Ray Doran recently met with New York State Assemblyman to discuss how unfunded NYS mandates and the Triborough Amendment are affecting the .
"We brought lots of information about the amendment," said Nathan. "We don't want to take away any benefits from employees, but we wanted to focus on people getting raises - i.e., steps and lanes."
Amending the Amendment
The amendment - which is part of the state's Taylor Law - and its effects on current and future contract negotiations between schools and various unions, plus what role the state should play, if any, were originally by Sweeney and BOE President Ed Murphy, Jr., at the on .
It mandates that even when a contract is up for unionized employees, school districts/boards can't alter the terms and conditions of employment, and in return employees can't go on strike.
This is particularly key in Lindenhurst, where the district and BOE are currently in continued contract negotiations with five of the six employee bargaining units: TAL (), aides, clericals, administrative and nurses (and the custodians’ contract is up in June 2012).
Sweeney told Lindenhurst Patch after the Breakfast, "I'm open to ideas, but it's a court decision that shouldn't be contravened."
In fact, he offered to meet with Nathan and the BOE, but Nathan and Doran were disappointed since they felt the meeting seemed more like a formality.
"He was very cordial, and he did listen to what we had to say," noted Nathan.
However, Nathan told Patch he was hoping there would've been more of an open discussion about how the state might be able to change the portion where unions continue to receive steps and lanes.
It's a portion of the amendment that the BOE feels hinders contract negotiations because in its view it gives unions no incentive to negotiate - something that was brought up at the Breakfast by Murphy.
Nathan also told Patch that portion wasn't a part of the original law.
"That was the piece we were hoping to make [the assemblyman] understand. That it was a change that happened in 1982 when the NYSIT (teachers' union) lobbied for it," Nathan said.
Nathan and Doran also spoke with Sweeney about , such as Cuomo's desire to link the receipt of state aid to the adoption of a formal enhanced teacher evaulation process.
This process (APPR) must be created within the year, and it could run the district roughly $100,000, Nathan at the Breakfast.
"We talked about the staff development and and curriculum that would have to be implemented as a result of the APPR, as well as the new core curriculum standards," Nathan said after the meeting.
"They did give me a list of mandates, which was certainly part of the discussion at the Breakfast," said Sweeney. "We had a general discussion about that."
"We wanted him to be aware of what's happening and how this affects the district," Nathan said.
While it seemed nothing came of the meeting, the superintendent did say they were reassured much of the $250 million dollars Governor Andrew Cuomo originally set aside for competitive grants for districts around the state would be funneled back into the regular state aid pool.
If that happens, then Sweeney expects the the district is projected to receive for will be bumped up a bit.
"It was my understanding that $200 million would go back to state aid," said Nathan. "We won't know how it affects the district till later, but that's at least promising."
Indeed, the coming to won't known until the state budget for 2012-13 is finalized. And Sweeney said, "We should have a budget within the next week, or soon thereafter."
He also mentioned legislators were waiting to hear back from the governor's Mandate Relief Council.
According to Sweeney, Council members have been meeting with districts all over the state. He said the recommendations of the Council probably won't come in time to affect the 2012-13 state budget, but in time to be discussed for this year's legislative session.
While that's been happening, a group on Facebook called Save Long Island Schools has formed to get its .
The group held a at state offices in Hauppauge on . It kicked off Save Long Island Schools Advocacy Week, during which organizers are encouraging residents to lobby Albany to increase funding for local schools by calling and writing their legislators, according to a report on Newsday.com.