Changing of the Garb

Posted on 14 January 2010

web Teachers Shirts

“This is no longer about gray shirts … wearing them or not wearing them,” pronounced Teacher’s Association of Sag Harbor (TASH) President Eileen Kochanasz at the Sag Harbor School District’s board of education meeting on Monday, January 11. As her words reverberated throughout the Pierson High School library, the district’s teachers uniformly stood up and pulled off their gray shirts imprinted with the words “Year Two, No Contract” to reveal black ones with a new slogan, “Sag Harbor, District in Crisis.”

During a later interview, Kochanasz said the protest garb is meant to call attention to statements and actions allegedly made by the board, in regards to the tumultuous teacher contract negotiations, and to respond to public displeasure with the visibility of the gray shirts. The new black apparel will be worn by the teachers only on Monday and the educators will dress in regular attire for the rest of the school week. Kochanasz added that TASH members will continue to picket in front of school grounds on Fridays.

“[We were told by the public] if the shirts were not there, there would be more support. If we removed the shirts completely people would forget … The sole purpose [of the black shirts] is to keep the community aware that this issue is seriously unsettled for us,” said Kochanasz later in the week.

The new TASH garments are being met with disapproval by some parents in the community. Since TASH members arrived in the gray shirts on the first day of school in September, parent Laura Avedon said many parents repeatedly requested TASH wear regular clothes inside the classroom. She believes the new message might also be frightening for students especially those in the elementary school.

“The t-shirts are a menacing artifact of a dispute that belongs in the realm of adults only,” noted Avedon in an email. “When I got home from the Board of Education meeting . . . I had to explain to my elementary school daughter that tomorrow she was going to see new t-shirts on all her teachers, saying that the school district was in crisis. She was very concerned, since she knows the word crisis means a dire or life-threatening emergency. I explained to her that the district was not in crisis, and that no harm would come to her by going to school.”

Of the plan to only wear the shirts on Monday, Avedon said, “It should be no days a week. The children shouldn’t be involved … I think it harms them emotionally.”

A fellow parent, Glenn Lawton, added, “These semantics further fuel the polarity and only help to erode our collective ‘spirit.’”

Parent Bill Collage remarked, “I am very pro teacher. I think the gray t-shirts were very effective messaging and the penetration of the message is roughly 100 percent among the parents. The black t-shirts will be met with less regard, I’m willing to bet. I think the next great message in this process will be when they take the t-shirts off.”

Chris Tice added “I am supportive of a process where teachers have the right to publicly voice their position. I would prefer it not be done on shirts worn in front of our young children.”

Kochanasz said TASH members haven’t noticed the shirts negatively impacting the students adding that they are very sensitive and tuned into the children.

School superintendent Dr. John Gratto noted the teachers are allowed to dress in any manner they see fit as the teachers’ contract and the district policy doesn’t speak to attire.

For TASH, said Kochanasz, the black shirts merely hint at larger issues that have arisen since their contract expired in June 2008. Though the teachers’ contract expired, the provisions of the former contract will continue until a new one is settled. In a speech delivered at the board meeting on Monday, Kochanasz asserted the board discredited a Fact Finder’s report and his qualifications, saying he wasn’t given enough time to complete his work and his professional background focused on national sports leagues instead of school districts. In an interview, school board president Walter Wilcoxen noted the board felt the report was incomplete because the Fact Finder didn’t address all of the major issues and he was given just three days to submit his recommendations.

After learning that four teachers have submitted their resumes to neighboring school districts, Dr. Gratto said if he was in their position he would also apply elsewhere to make more money, claimed Kochanasz. In an interview, Dr. Gratto said he didn’t make that statement. Kochanasz noted, in her speech, that Dr. Gratto was awarded a 13.5 percent raise last June which she said is a “greater percentage raise in one year than the combined percentages of [the board's] offer to teachers over five years.”

But Kochanasz’s statement, contended Wilcoxen, doesn’t include a 2.7 percentage step increase, or additional money given for each year a teacher is employed in the district.

“In my opinion you have deliberately misled this community with your repeated assurances that your negotiators are prepared to stay all night to reach an agreement,’” added Kochanasz of negotiations so far. “Yet during our most recent sessions, we weren’t given one counter-proposal to any comprehensive proposal we made at the same session. It was always, ‘we have to adjourn to assess … or cost out.’”

“We have to cost out but they don’t,” argued Wilcoxen. “We came up with our best offer. We would love to come up with a contract that is good for them and an efficiency, i.e. cost savings to us.”

“This is not about people disagreeing. It’s about what happens when they do. They are marginalized, trivialized, dismissed in public, in the press and at cocktail parties,” continued Kochanasz, interjecting a claim that a school board member was heard referring to a parent who spoke at a previous board meeting as a “buffoon” at The American Hotel.

Of this incident, Wilcoxen said he didn’t know about the comment made but said, “We are a small community and haven’t board members been called worse in public?”

Dr. Gratto and school board member Mary Ann Miller believed the new shirts would have little effect on the progression of the negotiations.

“Picketing or attacking people or wearing t-shirts isn’t going to change the fact that both parties will have to reach an agreement they think is fair,” noted Dr. Gratto. He said the board made the last proposal at the last negotiation session on December 3.

Miller added, “I don’t think the protesting methods are doing a lot to sell their positions. I think the financial state of the economy in this country is what people are focusing on.”

At Monday’s meeting, community member and parent Brigid Collins said she believed as a superintendent of the district Dr. Gratto should represent the board and the teachers, and try to mediate a compromise. She said, “The board brought this person in to bring us to a place I am not sure we want to be. I am really hopeful this can stop.”

On another note, TASH’s charge with the Public Employee Relations Board accusing the board of pre-conditioned bargaining is still under review. However, another TASH charge asserting the board is bargaining in bad faith was found to be lacking evidence, noted PERB representative Monty Klein in a letter from December 30. TASH has the opportunity to file an amendment of the charges by January 15.

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33 Responses to “Changing of the Garb”

  1. Consider This says:

    Wow, thank goodness that parent assured her child that no harm would come to her at school because of those teachers wearing black shirts! I guess that parent wasn’t at the morning program yesterday when the TEACHERS initiated a standing ovation for a presentation by two parents…a first since I’ve been attending the morning program.

  2. Harriet says:

    I agree.It’s not as if her child is in kindergarten. I would hope that the definition of “crisis” is something that a 5th grader could look up herself at that age. I’m sure the fine teachers at SHES have taught her how to use a dictionary… Perhaps Helicopter Mom should ease up a bit lest she unwittingly creates an anxiety -ridden child…
    It isn’t such a bad life lesson for kids to see a little freedom of expression at work – on a T-shirt-worn- one day a week- by caring and peaceful teachers. A wise parent can use this as wonderful way to teach children (especially those who are old enough to read & comprehend the word “crisis”) about our country and the rights we enjoy (and are allowed to exercise)when seeking change…
    BTW- I also attended that wonderful Morning Program! It was just amazing and inspiring!

  3. curious says:

    jusy wondering what the “presentation by two parents” that warrented a standing ovation…………????????????….anyone……………..

  4. curious says:

    …..BTW Harriet….Haiti is in crisis….Sag Harbor Union Free School District…IS NOT!

  5. Harriet says:

    curious how there is so little room for more than one type of “crisis” in your narrow little world…

  6. Consider This says:

    The presentation honored and educated us about Dr. Martin Luther King. It was about tolerence,understanding differences,courage to fight for what you believe in, and peace.

  7. Art says:

    Crisis no
    Embarrassment yes
    These are our educators??
    What’s happening in Haiti is a crisis
    What’s happening in sag harbor is a dispute that is not bad enough for the teachers to walk away from and not serious enough for the board to want to fix. I don’t like the tenor of the lesson. Lets set a good example for our children or… clean house and put people in those positions that will! there is no reason for this and I am tired of it. Put our children first!

  8. Harriet says:

    Art-Do you mean to say ” is bad enough for the teachers NOT to walk away from”? Your phrasing is unclear…
    To say ” not serious enough for the board to want to fix” do you mean to trivialize the situation? What- in YOUR opinion- exactly- should the board consider serious enough to fix? What do you believe their job to be?
    There are many crises in the world- of course- One asthmatic child struggling to breathe is a crisis- and NOT comparable to the unimaginable devastation taking place in Haiti_ except perhaps to the parents of THAT child.Playing games with semantics in this case seems to be a simply a tool to detract from the problem and diminish the validity of the issues facing the teachers…
    Just what do YOU really think should happen? Assuming you were in the position of either teachers or board?

    attempt to belittle Better to deal with each according to it’s need and relevant solution-
    The teachers obviously

  9. Harriet says:

    To clarify – regarding my last post…The following was a computer glitch typo:

    “attempt to belittle Better to deal with each according to it’s need and relevant solution-
    The teachers obviously”

  10. Art says:

    Harriet Don’t call me out. I am not picking sides. If you want me to dunb it down for you both sides are acting selfishly and not putting our children first this is not astro physics and it is embarrassing already… Get a life.

  11. GENE says:

    Harriet did you take your meds today?

  12. Harriet says:

    This is a BLOG. If you are not open to having a dialogue then consider doing something else with your time.My questions and comments were intended to allow for some exchange of ideas as it initially appeared as though you had something of substance to share. My mistake.

  13. Elementary School Parent says:

    When TASH complains about Dr. Gratto’s pay increase, they conveniently omit the fact that the Teachers retire with 75% of their salary GUARANTEED FOR LIFE. For a 60 year old person to own that revenue stream would require $2.5 million dollars in the bank.
    Therefore the teachers actually are compensated approximately $50,000 per year EXTRA which is put away for them. And it guaranteed against loss.
    TASH teachers are extremely well compensated. All in, including free health care, they average over $200,000 per year. Yet they only work 190 days per year!!
    TASH, if you were truly fair you would accept a pay cut.

  14. Consider This says:

    A teacher would have to have about 38 years of service for those figures to be somewhat accurate. That’s almost twice the years of service that some public employees have to work to get full retirement. Teachers do pay into the retirement system. Also, there is no free health care for a very large majority at Sag Harbor. Maybe it’s true for the Tier I or II teachers who have been there for ages. The teachers do pay a percentage of their health premiums. In fact, Sag Harbor was one of if not the first district out here to have employee contributions to health care. The new Tier 5 which was added in NY state January 1st has reduced benefits for teachers. That should make the teacher bashers happy. Oh and by the way, don’t forget to subtract the $120,000-$240,000 that it takes a teacher to get that 6 year degree to apply for that first year teacher salary that is lower than the district’s lead bus driver and bus supervisor. Gee, I think they work 190 days as well.

  15. Elementary School Parent says:

    Again a convenient omission. True the teachers pay into the retirement system: but just 5% of their salary and ONLY for the first 7 years of their employment (when they earn the least). That equates to approximately $3000 per year for 7 years. That’s a $21,000 investment (pretax) which grows to the equivalent of $2.5 million guaranteed (granted also pretax).
    I’ll take that perquisite any day.

  16. Ap-parent says:

    Teachers PAY INTO RETIREMENT and HEALTH BENEFITS which are taken out of each paycheck. Anyone taking money out of THEIR OWN paycheck and putting it into a retirement plan for 30 years could expect to retire accordingly. This is common knowledge.

    Teaching is not the best paying job by any means. It also requires a good deal of uncompensated time outside of the salaried time frame. There is a slow and steady aspect to it. Anyone who thinks that teachers are compensated $50,000 a year EXTRA is utterly delusional. In fact, a beginning salary at our school for teachers at the current contract level is $45,937 per year for a Master’s degree. The new head bus driver just hired by the district started at $50,000 a year. Deductions are taken out for dental and medical as well as retirement for each pay period.

    The average salary for this district (according to one online site is $67,266.) As you know average means that some fall on either side of that number. Only 5% of the district’s teachers earn $100,000. That would be roughly about 6 teachers out of about 120.

    This information is FREE and ONLINE for those who care more about FACTS than spewing hear say.

    Incidentally, the compounding interest thing may seem very impressive to the uninitiated, but here is a quote (this is assuming an 18 year old making $20,000 a year is putting away about $35.00 a WEEK in an interest bearing account) and link to help you see through this:

    “Even if you’re only making $20,000 per year, 10% of that money is $2,000/year and in 50 years you’d be sitting on about $2,500,000 at 10% (yes that is 2 MILLION 5 HUNDRED THOUSAND off someone that makes $20,000 per year). You’d have put in a total of $100,000 and the beauty of compound interest would have accounted for the other $2,400,000 of it. Compounding interest is pretty slick. See : http. www. my investing blog. com /you-want-to-retire-someday-how-much-should-you-save-today-and-should-you-bother/or many others available online

    In addition, teachers do not share in the boon times that builders, real estate people, landscapers, attorneys, architects and financial investors do. Incidentally, MANY OF THE CURRENT BOARD MEMBERS FALL INTO THESE CATEGORIES. TEACHERS WON’T MAKE $80,000 ON THE SALE OF A ONE MILLION DOLLAR HOME OR A HEFTY PERCENTAGE OF A HOME DESIGNING PROJECT. IT IS NOT THE NATURE OF THE WORK.

    IT IS THE SAME WITH TOWN, VILLAGE AND STATE EMPLOYEES AS WELL.

    FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND AND WHAT I HAVE READ, SALARY IS NOT THE BIGGEST ISSUE OF CONCERN IN THE DISPUTE.

    THIS IS A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS FOR EVERYONE IN OUR COMMUNITY. DON’T ADD TO IT WITH RIDICULOUS, CONTRIVED, MISLEADING AND (BY THE WAY) ERRONEOUS, CALCULATIONS.

    IT APPEARS YOU DO NOT VALUE EDUCATORS AND education at all. It appears your intent is to present a disparaging view of educators rather than presenting FACTS for thought. As you can see for yourself, using numbers to shock the public is valueless when ANYONE can create a good retirement by putting aside 10% of their income for many, many years – it’s all in the compounding of interest and has nothing to do with anyone’s extraordinary compensation.

  17. jones says:

    This is a great school, but trashing teachers is very destructive to society. This board thinks they are going to save the world by putting the squeeze on the one group that gives the most in a school. They got their priorities in the wrong direction.

  18. Sag Harbor Taxpayer says:

    If teaching requires a good deal of uncompensated time outside of the salaried time frame, why is one of the demands that the teachers be paid twice for unused sick days?
    Teachers are currently paid for days they must be absent due to illness.
    Please explain why they are asking get paid again if they were not sick and did not use the days?
    Please explain why they want to be paid for all that time in the last year of their career?
    Could it be that they want to pad their final year average salary? Further increasing that guaranteed benefit?

  19. AP PARENT says:

    What guaranteed benefit are you talking about? Do you mean if everyone loses money in their retirement because the market goes bad , teachers don’t? Wrong again! Teachers DON’T get paid twice for sick days… Where did you find that tidbit? Teachers get sick days just like civil service employees, hospital workers and others. If they use them- for example – if they get cancer and are out of work for a month. they use their sick days and don’t need to collect from taxpayer funded government programs That are available to those who are in the same situation. However ,they DO pay into those government programs that take care of others just the same as everyone else does( except those who work off the books) for example.If they don’t use them they can cash them in. So?? This is a problem? There is no “padding” retirement with sick days earned. Retirement is based on the AVERAGE of THREE YEARS earnings and has LIMITATIONS which DO NOT allow any increases in that period that are 10% above the other two years. Sick days cannot be added to final salary average…Thus preventing the kind of “padding” you are implying…
    Are people making up this stuff?
    Is it simply ignorance? Or malicious gossip?
    SAD TO SEE SUCH AN IMPORTANT PROFESSION SO MALIGNED.

  20. new ideas says:

    ap-parent: I checked out the blog because I was interested in what the rate of return was on those #s and found this interesting point: “10% is a very good return. If your return is less the end value could be much less (the power of compound interest). Also people often just look at the huge number like $2,000,000 and forget that inflation with the power of compounding makes that worth a lot less 30 years from now than it is today.”

    Just curious, isn’t the bus driver that got the $, the lead busdriver? The one responsible for overseeing the others? Sort of a “foreman”? Please correct me if I am wrong. If I am correct, is unfair to compare that salary to a starting teacher.

    Everyone hopefully chooses to go into the profession of their choice, one that fits their skills the best. There are good times and bad in all of them. The point is, that hopefully you’ve chosen the job that brings you the greatest gratification for your abilities. Thankfully there are so many diverse people in this world to hold so many different professions. Would you say, though, that public school teachers are public employees, paid by taxpayer’s money? Unlike private school teachers who incidentally get paid much less. I believe good teachers are the foundation for the future of our society. When budgets need to be cut for lack of state funding or tough economic times, there needs to be adjustments for cost savings to continue program and keep the fine teachers we have.

    We all know that budgets are being slashed, but still some continue to spend more, or take from one to aid another. I hope the board and tash can really look into how these cost increases will affect our future and the future of our children & community. Does tash really want the school to have to cut teachers? Cut program? Go on austerity? Or if it isn’t the $ that tash wants, then please explain what are the issues that you really want? Because as the above comment notes… the sick day buy-back is just ludicrous. Maybe tash and the board, together, can be proactive and creative in helping to find some cost saving measures to offset any increases, to help fund tash’s requests? or is the answer just to raise taxes?

  21. jones says:

    Adjustments?- New Ideas. Like a 13.5% increase for the new superintendent and 5% for the office staff, desired plans for tons of money to be spent on astroturf, new buildings etc, etc.? All the other school districts on the south fork treat their teachers fairly, they don’t trash them and threaten to take away this and that (like messing with their retirement and health benefits) …And don’t say we’re a poor district, that is ridiculous. Come on, the board has barely sat down and talked to the teachers- they are stone walling just like a corporation that takes care of it’s stock holders and they are inciting people who hate teachers (who are having a great time with this). I am sick of how our teachers are being treated, especially after becoming the best academic school out east!

  22. AP PARENT says:

    new ideas- my comment quoted the stated 10% investment return at the very beginning- nothing hidden here- the point was not to nit-pick a specific return percentage, but to illustrate the fact that INTEREST COMPOUNDING is what creates the income stream that funds a good deal of retirement income. Not dollar for dollar tax money as has been implied. To clarify again-THAT was an EXAMPLE. And there are many more websites to help you out…
    If you read more closely you will also see that I referred to the HEAD bus driver. While , of course, the increased responsibility warrants a good salary and I think it is great that she/he is making this salary, everyone should earn what they are worth as seem to be suggesting. I think that a teacher with 6 years of college (required to start teaching)( paid for by them and/or their families) is certainly worth at least this amount considering she/he is also a FOREMAN- sort of ENTRUSTED WITH THE CARE OF YOUR CHILDREN ALL DAY AS WELL AS THEIR EDUCATION…Not to disparage our wonderful bus drivers NEW IDEAS- but IT IS QUITE CLEAR WHERE your PRIORITIES ARE… Let me restate your position-A bus driver FOREMAN is worth more than a first year teacher because the foreman has more responsibilities…OK. That so?
    Did you forget the CHILDREN? Are they not AT LEAST as important the buses and personnel who man them?

  23. curious says:

    This will never stop….TASH will never have enough….when my child was in the fifth grade,her $120,000-$240,000 for a degree teacher gave a demonstration about hurricanes where she vicously ate a chocolate doughnut simulating a hurricane all I can say is NO ONE IN MY HOUSE WILL EVER EAT A CHOCOLATE DOUGHNUT AGAIN still have nightmares about it!!!YIKES….Do the teachers at the elementary school believe that they and their union contract woes are simmilar to RACISM AND SEGRAGATION!!!!IS THAT WHAT THE STANDING O WAS FOR….that in it self is a crisis!!!
    Board of ed do not give in to the gossip spreading fear mongers

  24. fred says:

    My wife was a teacher who retired a few years ago. She’d stay up looking for new and good material to help her kids remember lessons. Looks like that 5th grade teacher hit the mark helping make her lesson memorable! My wife used to say that there were parents out there who could turn a the trauma of a chomped chocolate doughnut into nightmares and a real family crisis! Sometimes, they could never eat doughnuts again! She acknowledged that there where always a few really loopy people out there, who would turn anything into a crisis (like a standing ovation into a civil rights march when there was no connection at all.) Don’t you think she deserved a big fat bonus for having to deal with such doughNUTS?

  25. MyPiersonKids says:

    Well Curious you proved Jones’s point- you just hate teachers and education. What is this lie about $120,000-$240,000? Only a small amount of teachers made over $100,000 and most of those are retired. The only person who makes over $200,000 is the new Superintendent. Also I (and my High School children) talked to people at the elementary school about the applause at a Martin Luther King presentation- I don’t know what kind of issues you have with the celebration of the most important symbol of modern civil rights, but it was overwhelmingly reported that the applause was for an fanatastic presentation which inspired equality. Sounds like you twisted this in your mind (most likely, on a subconscious level YOU believe things are unfair for the teachers).

  26. Consider This says:

    Curious most definitely twisted the intent of the standing ovation.

  27. Not Affraid to Say... says:

    I am a full-time working parent – also have children in Sag Harbor. TASH has lost me. I honestly feel their methods are immature and ineffective. The bottom line is we are in a Recession. Their compensation is beyond what most of us what make in a life-time with guarenteed pensions at an excellent rate of return. Join the “Real-World”, and stop threatening the Board and the parents in the district with the Entitlement Attitude noting that they are “resposible for our youth of the future…” We as parents are responsible for that – and fully aware of the fact. This convesation can no longer be considered intellectual and informative b/c TASH has dimished this to this… idle pettiness. The fact now is that there are plenty of very, highly educated and qualified teachers out there today without jobs that would be more than glad to be compensated at the “going market rates” (as proposed in the current contract) and understand that with HealthCare Reform no-one can honestly guarentee a HealthCare plan year-over-year. That is simply illogical to expect – No-One in the state can be guarenteed that right now. I am not impressed about their contributions to healthcare either. The average full-time working employee (without the 8 week summer vacation), only receives approx $300 toward healthcare by their Employer per month; regardless of Tier (i.e. Single, Employee/Spouse, Family). So for a Family Rate on the market today that rate is approx $2,000, that means that the employee would pay $1,700 a month for Health Ins. out of their own pocket. “YES” that is a fact – check with the NYS Dept. of Ins. I think the big issue at hand here is the that the Teachers are unwilling to face the facts; we are living in 2010, in an Country-Wide Recession and no one is overly impressed with the level of education b/c of Morning Program. I personally don’t see anything academically outstanding being done soley by the teachers there. Furthermore, and comparitively to up the Island, I think we may be falling behind academically. So for what it’s worth, I am not ashamed to admit, I have taken sides at this point b/c TASH has driven me and my family to it.

  28. local parent says:

    I am a full-time working parent of several children who are educated in our district. Because I grew up here, I also remember when Sag Harbor Elementary School was mediocre to poor in quality. Very few people had a good word to say about it in those days. This changed over the years and it has been a pleasure to feel proud of our school in recent years.I feel a sense of real pride when telling someone that my children attend our schools. I am tired of these “parents” who speak “BOARD-ESE”. It is becoming too easy to pick them out.The modus operandi is “teacher bashing”. They bring up the coveted summer vacation,time off,excellent rates of return on everything that touches their teacherly hands, salaries to build palaces with,jackpot sized retirement packages, sick days,double sick days,free horse shoes with every sick day, the fact that other teachers are standing in line to get their jobs and that the teachers need to stop “threatening” the board,being greedy, stockpiling designer clothing while others eat cardboard steak for dinner,diamond dust covering the window ledges … Blah blah blah. It sounds like a worn out script.
    Personally, I have never seen nor perceived any sense that teachers are threatening anyone.They seem to want a fair shake at real negotiations. What is clearly evident however is the lack of cooperation from this school board. I have attended numerous BOE meetings They have demonstrated themselves to be deceptive, misleading, obstinate, arrogant, bitter, painfully and embarrassingly mediocre and completely impotent in fulfilling their duty and securing successful negotiations.They profess to want to move in a new direction, but, as becomes more clear every day, are poorly equipped to take anyone in any direction at all. This board has brought this school to such a low point and polarized a community by failing to be discrete regarding negotiations and failing to be transparent when selecting a superintendent. (No teachers should have to accept a precondition to negotiations.)
    As parents, we ARE responsible for raising our children.Given the amount of time that full-time working parents have to spend with their children (and be emotionally PRESENT for them-between the hours of 5 and 8 pm??and when they are not frazzled, cooking,cleaning running them to games and extra curricular programs or sleeping ) good luck.I’ll opt for the best teachers I can find and work WITH them! Some people like fooling themselves-I think the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”, has never been more appropriate.
    I have been very pleased with morning program as are MANY others so don’t include us when you say “no one” is overly impressed with it. It’s been great to know my children have started off the day in such a positive way. It is so conducive to the learning they do during the day….The level of education overall is superb and the teachers are a great part of it.The parents who share in the wonderful community and work hand in hand with our teachers are such an attribute to our school as well!
    If you are not happy at SHES maybe you can find another school for your children. Maybe up-island where you have seen better pastures. After all, there are plenty of people still looking to move into your place as well.
    If this board doesn’t get their feet out of the mud and find a way to open serious communication and address these issues the community will be able to thank them for dragging our school back into mediocrity.

  29. Not Affraid to Say... says:

    Understood, and you are correct on so many points…I think we are all exhausted – at least those of us who care – of this whole situation and lets face it, right or wrong, many of us have taken sides. If I could afford to move, I might consider it and this whole thing would be a strong consideration as to why.

    That said I don’t despute ALL the teachers are touting Entitlement, it is simply some. As I am sure you feel about the Board; it is not all of them but some you are frustrated with. Please don’t make this a despitute b/twn parents. I am trying to get across that finacially they are asking for things that are not in-line with current market standards in terms of salaries, pensions, healthcare, etc. (I have spoke to dozens of parents in the district about this), NPR Radio ran an excellent news story today on how Corporations acrosss the country are under intense pressure with the Unions about Healthcare. These demands about healthcare are not reasonable and quite frankly if people understood how the plans worked they might better understand that reducing those costs would allow them to put the money back into annual salary increases. We all know healthcare is sparse as it is out here, so why pay for “Cadillac Plans” when you are only using some of the services. If there are true medical needs for some, but not all, and this is creating year over year increases that we cannot afford, then let that be a choice on each individual teacher basis – not across the board and each year a teacher would have the option to elect the $ for a high end healthplan – or if they took a lower option they would retain the money and get it back as additional standard of living increase. All I am saying is we need to face the facts here and it is about the Economic Climate as MaryAnne Miller said; I honestly feel like this is not an educated discussion anymore and that Unions – all across the country need to understand that they need to come in line with the rest of the population as well as market-place if they want to survice and still be respected in the community. Your comments – as with many did nothing to offer solutions….and that is what we are all tired of.

    The only mediocrity I see at this point is the intellectual impetus this situation has put the school in. With a Law Suit looming this is only going to cost us money. I still cannot conceed that I blame the Board here, b/c if they give in we will be paying for tenure not merit.

    I am simply concerned and this is tarnishing us all….

  30. local parent says:

    You bring up typical issues the board has maintained rigidly as their core arguments.
    To move forward into a direction of unknown health plans after years of a decent plan is risky business. I am not inclined to trust the judgement of a board that has failed to show the ability to negotiate and to remove preconditions as a requirement to coming to the table..What criteria are you using to rate this Cadillac Plan you talk about is?. For one thing, the basic copay is 4Xs that of other local government employees. I checked with the local village. They pay $5.00 copays to SHUFSD $20.00 for example. What makes this board capable of selecting health plan options? Who are the experts? Have any experts been consulted. What criteria are you using to rate a Cadillac Plan?
    Regarding programs concerning corporations, unions and health care- I personally have little respect for corporations whose CEO’s make 100,000 an HOUR ( google top salaries of CEO’s in health care industry) and cry poverty at the expense of the little guy. You see, it is all quite relative. Why not focus the negotiations on compromise rather than stone walling- For example, keep salaries the same for a year, for example as Southampton Town did, pending a review of the economy. Leave insurance the same and follow the fact finders advice regarding healthcare in retirement. Let new people come in at a new adjusted rate rather than taking away from the existing paradigm. There are a few suggestions. Perhaps other concerned parents can offer ideas as well- if only this board was open to anything but there own rigid ideas…

  31. Not Affraid to Say... says:

    You are led astray with comments about the Village Plan and I really, truly welcome this dialogue. See – this is constructive…I see your point and can help clarify. In NYS there are 3 type of Health Ins. There are Community Rated plans, Middle Market and Large Grp. Each are rated differently based on a number of factors. For our purposes though lets talk about Large Grp. b/c that is what the school is. Large Grp is rated on Utilization – its all handle by underwriting and the rates are derived by the usage and claims $$’s. That fact alone puts the community in a quandry b/c any given year the rates could change and are not based on overall insurance rates like Community rates. In other words the rates can’t be “capped” b/c for large grp it is based on Utilization. That said you cannot compare one large group plan to another and cannot compare benefits b/c the only way groups can get very cheap prices and very rich benefits is if their claims history is VERY GOOD. I have no idea how the Village is structured, but can tell you with certainty (pls trust me on this) that the average copay on in the industry is $25 to $30 as of 2010. The average Single rate is $400, Employee Spouse is $800 and Family just over $1,400 and those are for In-Network only plans, so double that on all levels for and In and Out-of Network plan. Lastly, no-one from the Board on down designs a HealthCare Plan – the carriers do that based on which plans are approved by NYS (and in that case they can only sell a few) or on Large Grp you get a plan design suited to yor group based on utilization. Again, I welcome this discussion and feel like maybe everyone is uniformed and in this case I will agree with you that maybe the Board has not done a good job of describing the “behind the scenes” on how the Carriers arrive at rates and plans. However a $5.00 copy plan would average $700 on a Single rate. In the State on NY if you do not work for a Company a Single rate for a fully funded In-Network only plan costs is an average of $800+ and a Family plan could run upwards to $4,000. You should check out ehealthinsurance.com. Maybe you can help facilitate the dialogoue with Union to help them better understand. Thanks for your time.

  32. Not Affraid to Say... says:

    You are led astray with comments about the Village Plan and I really, truly welcome this dialogue. See – this is constructive…I see your point and can help clarify. In NYS there are 3 type of Health Ins. There are Community Rated plans, Middle Market and Large Grp. Each are rated differently based on a number of factors. For our purposes though lets talk about Large Grp. b/c that is what the school is. Large Grp is rated on Utilization – its all handle by underwriting and the rates are derived by the usage and claims $$’s. That fact alone puts the community in a quandry b/c any given year the rates could change and are not based on overall insurance rates like Community rates. In other words the rates can’t be “capped” b/c for large grp it is based on Utilization. That said you cannot compare one large group plan to another and cannot compare benefits b/c the only way groups can get very cheap prices and very rich benefits is if their claims history is VERY GOOD. I have no idea how the Village is structured, but can tell you with certainty (pls trust me on this) that the average copay on in the industry is $25 to $30 as of 2010. The average Single rate is $400, Employee Spouse is $800 and Family just over $1,400 and those are for In-Network only plans, so double that on all levels for and In and Out-of Network plan. Lastly, no-one from the Board on down designs a HealthCare Plan – the carriers do that based on which plans are approved by NYS (and in that case they can only sell a few) or on Large Grp you get a plan design suited to yor group based on utilization. Again, I welcome this discussion and feel like maybe everyone is uniformed and in this case I will agree with you that maybe the Board has not done a good job of describing the “behind the scenes” on how the Carriers arrive at rates and plans. However a $5.00 copy plan would average $700 on a Single rate. In the State on NY if you do not work for a Company a Single rate for a fully funded In-Network only plan costs is an average of $800+ and a Family plan could run upwards to $4,000. You should check out ehealthinsurance.com. Maybe you can help facilitate the dialogoue with Union to help them better understand. Thanks for your time.


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