Now that the Lindenhurst School District has settled the first of six employee unit contracts - the custodian contract - all eyes have turned once again to contract talks with the largest of the five remaining bargaining units: the teachers' union.
It's been six months since the Lindenhurst Board of Education declared an impasse in its talks with TAL - which have been happening for a couple of years now since the current contract expired on June 30, 2011.
"We're still hopeful about the teachers," BOE President Hochman told Lindenhurst Patch after the Community Input Night: Budget Overview on Wednesday night where Superintendent Richard Nathan presented the first look at the upcoming budget and challenges the District's facing in a post-Hurricane Sandy and post-tax cap world.
(Look for a story to come about the 2013-14 budget outlook.)
The community, on the other hand, wasn't as hopeful - and many took TAL to task.
Taking TAL to Task
In laying out some of the budget challenges moving forward, Nathan once again pointed to the Triborough Amendment - debated at and discussed after last year's Legislative Breakfast - and how it prevents employers from altering the terms and conditions of employment for unionized employees when their contracts run out.
He used the teachers' salary as an example, explaining because of the amendment the District is obligated to continue to pay the teachers their step and lane increases.
He put those increases at $1.7 million (steps) and $300,000 (lanes) for 2013-14.
"So that's another $2 million if we can't negotiate a contract," the superintendent said.
"It's very difficult," Assistant Superintendent of Business Jackie Scrio added. "They'd have to take less than they'd get by doing nothing. The law has prevented us, and them, from being equal on both sides."
BOE Trustee Ed Langone agreed with that assessment, and said if the teachers took a freeze in 2013-14, then it'd save the District a couple of million.
He said we'd "probably" be able to save a lot of programs and be "under the cap," which on Wednesday Nathan put at 3.44 percent at the start of this year's budget season. That percentage is based on New York State's tax cap formula for school districts.
However, Hochman told Patch while it'd save about $3 million, it'd be a one-time only fix. The contract really needs to be settled.
John Lisi - who spoke on behalf of himself and Denis Garbo, who couldn't attend the meeting - appealed to TAL to make some "meaningful concessions," and thanked the union for their "serious consideration" of this request.
Linda McKee dubbed this a "morality issue," and called for compromise on both sides. "Are you in it for the dimes or for the kids?" she asked.
She added, "Triborough isn't the evil. Greed - that's the evil."
One resident felt, "They're playing a pencil game with us."
Another resident said, "I like the teachers. I was in a union. I understand...but this community is getting hammered."
After the February 20 school budget meeting TAL President Rose Russo had no other comment about what was said or about contract talks except to say the teachers' union is "still working to talk to the District. And we have been talking with them."
- TAL Taken to Task at School Budget Meeting
- Lindenhurst School District Settles Custodian Contract
- Lindy BOE Moves to Mediation in Talks with TAL
- Hochman Elected Lindenhurst Board of Education President
- Tensions Linger Months after Lindenhurst Teacher Walkout
- Lindenhurst Teachers Walk Out of School Budget Meeting