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Worries Over Parking and TASH are raised

Posted on 08 October 2009

There is never a dull moment in the Sag Harbor School District — and on Monday evening, the phrase was infused with new meaning at the board of education meeting. Dozens of teachers attended wearing their grey shirts, reiterating their dissatisfaction with contract negotiations and a stalemate in the bargaining process, and more than 20 parents and residents turned up to weigh-in on an upcoming parking project and the future of the middle and high school playing fields.
The board intends to spend around $1 million to create 51 additional parking spaces at the elementary school, renovate the Jermain Avenue lot near the Pierson gym and create additional car spots at the high school. During the meeting, the board announced an amendment to the plan. The parking project will no longer include seven spots that buttress Jermain Avenue. Now, there will be grass separating the street from the parking lot.
School board president Walter Wilcoxen further noted that the school isn’t required to increase the parking by any legislation, but would like to create new spaces to satisfy the needs of its staff and to accommodate a few visitors. Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano was on hand to support the parking project and said the congestion of parking has created safety issues.
But Carol Williams, who lives on Jermain Avenue across from the school was uncomfortable with spending money on parking and didn’t mind Pierson staff parking on the residential streets.
Other residents believe that by providing more parking, the school is encouraging car use over other modes of transportation. In conjunction with the parking project, some feel there should be a commensurate effort to promote biking and walking to school.
“The more people walk and bike, the safer walking and biking will be,” said 725 Green chairwoman Gigi Morris. Sara Gordon with the Peconic Land Trust asked for a plan to reduce car trips for families and staff.
Some parents also brought up the need for adequate sidewalks to the school, which would be the responsibility of the village. Village trustee Tim Culver said the village board was exploring installing sidewalks but such projects remain expensive.
The parking project would be part of a larger facilities bond which will be put up for a vote in December. Considering current interest rates and the decrease in construction prices, Wilcoxen said the school will most likely spend less on the project now than it would in the future.
In addition to discussions over parking, the board is mulling over purchasing a synthetic turf field for the middle and high school. The initial capital investment for synthetic turf is around $990,000 said director of buildings and grounds Montgomery Granger, but requires little maintenance. Over a 10 year period, the costs associated with an organic field or a synthetic one are comparable, he added.
“I hope we do one or the other,” remarked school board member Ed Haye. “I hope we don’t leave it the way it is.”
The current fields, noted Granger, are extremely compacted which can lead to injuries.
As the board meeting was winding down, Teacher Association President Eileen Kochanasz spoke to the stalemate in contract negotiations with the board.
“We have been watching some very organized, well-thought out plans presented and input from the public has been accepted. We just hope for the same treatment for the teachers,” said Kochanasz. “I have one thing left to say. The teachers are ready willing and able to negotiate.”
On Monday, Kochanasz said TASH officially asked for a “crisis” status with the New York State United Teachers union on the state of the negotiations, citing the board’s rejection of the fact finder’s report as a key reason for the move.
As the negotiations continue, several parents at the meeting said they feel the strife is deteriorating morale in the district.
“I feel a sense of loss in the schools and the community I moved into,” noted parent Janice Arbia. “I look at the teachers all dressed in the same shirts and I think there is a frustration in the board’s unwillingness to speak. Dr. Gratto you just got a raise … Then you [the board] are telling the teachers to tighten their belts.”
Wilcoxen said he will meet with Dr. Gratto and two other board members this week to “revisit the concept behind some of [the board's] positions and use it as a way to explore coming back to the table.”
“We spent two hours before [the meeting] started discussing ways to restart the negotiation process,” noted Haye. “Hopefully it will result in more fruitful negotiations.”
To which, Kochanasz replied, “Well that is good news for us and the district.”

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14 Responses to “Worries Over Parking and TASH are raised”

  1. taxpayer says:


  2. amazed says:

    To say that teaching is a part-time job is short-sighted and just plain ignorant. A lot of work is done on a teacher’s own time before they even set foot in the classroom to teach. A lot more work is done after teaching to grade papers and exams, and again there is not enough time in the school day to complete all of that so again it’s after hours. It would be interesting to see how much teachers would need to be paid if they were paid overtime for all the work they put in outside of school hours. Nobody sees it so they assume it doesn’t happen. Think about it. Also think about the fact that teachers are in the trenches every single day dealing with real problems while the administrators watch from above and take all the credit. It’s time teachers were paid and treated with the respect they deserve. What they are asking for is far from being out of line with the rest of Long Island. Wake up.

  3. mommab says:

    Dear Taxpayer-Your comments are pure ignorant.You obviously have no idea what goes on in a school and no comprehension of what teachers do.I find it so ironic that people like you can sit back and judge a PROFESSIONAL occupation that REQUIRES masters degrees,time,compassion and the difficult job of meeting state requirements while producing responsible and capable children to make our society a better place. They also have the most difficult job of giving TLC,brain power and everything else that goes into raising a child when parents slack off.I challenge you to spend one day in any classroom of that school and think that it is a part time job and that they dont deserve every penny they are asking for.Why isnt anyone looking at the school board and their motives?The community is finding it ok to spend millions of dollars on a turf field,but their teachers have no contract?You are blaming the wrong tribe mr taxpayer-if you are worried about your tax dollars you better point fingers and the people that make the big bucks and have no hesitation to spend your hard earned money on projects that they shape as being necessary. Those gray tshirts represent a group of people who go to a job everyday and perform much better that many higher paying districts.They are sticking together for what is right,and it is beyond me why the community isnt behind them 100%.They are asking what anyone else would if they were in a career field and wanting fair pay and benefits.Comparing them to a gang is disgraceful.

  4. Sag Harbor teacher says:


    Why not attend the next BOE meeting,scheduled for Oct. 19th, instead of hiding behind the printed word? Maybe then you would realize what is really going on in your community.

  5. incredulous says:

    I agree that taxpayers need to take a much closer look at the individuals on this school board and their potentially personal motives for keeping deserving teachers waiting almost two years for a relatively standard contract. For example, one board member paid almost $32,000 in property taxes( this is a matter of public record) on a property worth several million dollars – (one unverified public assessment stated over $5,000,000 in value). Now, most teachers in our area BEGIN their careers MAKING little more than this board member can afford to PAY IN TAXES A YEAR! For the homeowner whose home is valued at $500,000 to $750,000 , a tax increase for current proposals would cost $1.00 to $1.50 a week respectively. ( $ 50.00 to $75.00 a year) Of course for the wealthy, the increase would be justly, proportionate. This means that the more value in your home, the more tax you pay, but if one can afford pay to almost $32,000 in taxes a year, then they should be able to handle the changes that brings. This is not to say that this is the “agenda” behind the stonewalling, but it certainly makes one wonder.In any case this should NOT fall on the other taxpayers whose children are entitled to quality education and the teachers who do so much to help make it so! Teachers spend years learning their skills and incur tens of thousands of dollars in education loans and our teachers are NOT asking for anything unreasonable. Take a look at the FACT-FINDERS report-This balanced report found the teachers proposals very reasonable-at which point- the board and Gratto, who previously believed that the fact -finder report would be a wonderful resource- suddenly (surprise!) found the FACT-FINDERS report unimpressive- This board has gone above and beyond trying to take away benefits previously earned and that are in line with the norm. Other board members need to be scrutinized closely as well… One member is a teacher in a neighboring district that provides it’s teachers with all and more than Sag Harbor teachers want to negotiate for. Another board member has an administrative position that include health coverage and other benefits…and is at least partly funded by our tax dollars…and the list goes on…Ask yourself this question,” What IS their agenda? Why the hypocrisy? Not the least of the questions we need to ask is regarding the selection of John Gratto, our mercenary superintendent with only two meager years experience working in the ranks of teachers- teaching physical education in a PRISON! NOT WITH CHILDREN! He is now making over $170,000 dollars a year with benefits as well. In addition,this school board saw fit to turn over $25,000 of YOUR tax dollars to him as a bonus “for a job well done”. WHAT JOB WELL DONE? And what about the $85,000 plus dollars this board has paid in legal fees to continue it’s hypocritical stonewalling of teachers? Who gave them the authority to spend YOUR money on legal fees ? Why are THEY not being held accountable? And the list goes on…
    Let’s take care of OUR TEACHERS FIRST before we allow more than 2 million dollars worth of astroturf to be pushed down our throats- lest we find ourselves needing more physical education teachers to work in prisons. TAKE ACTION THAT MAKES SENSE! MAKE THIS SCHOOL BOARD ACCOUNTABLE!

  6. Sag Harbor teacher says:

    Dear Taxpayer,

    My colleagues and I hate wearing the grey shirts; however, now that we know what ignorant people like you think of them, we may actually begin to enjoy wearing them. Thanks for letting us know that the shirts are having the desired effect!

  7. mommab says:

    I have been to plenty of the BOE meetings-trust me.These days, to sit for hours while they talk in circles about everything but what is the most important issue does me no good. I know the facts. I am a taxpayer and want to know where my dollars go as well.Quality education is much more importan to me than a fancy field or a newly painted auditoriom.The board has wasted time and thousands of your dollars. What would your best alternative be?Rather than attending BOE meetings how about you go to a morning program so you can have a look at the human side of this matter-hard working teachers,children and parents.Or take a look at the salary scales of the surrounding districts.Dr. Gratto is paid a ridiculous amount of money to be a puppet and be rewarded for everyones elses hard work. The public needs to know what goes on behind closed doors and get their facts straight-ENOUGH ALREADY!

  8. THE FACTS says:

    There are many facts:
    Fact 1. Most teachers were brought up to parity the last round. It’s a collective unit doesn’t always mean a 100%.
    Fact 2. They want to be the highest in every aspect of their packages.
    Fact 3. Their gray shirts are affecting the students most parents are struggling to make ends meat they don’t care..Go to meeting and see how many parents are really there to support the teachers.. the same handful.
    Fact 4. They do only work a 180 days a year and most people in their jobs bring their work home with them or on their days off. No different than most gainfully employed person. I don’t get summers off and yield a full salary like teachers but that is the profession.
    Fact 5. Gratto shouldn’t have gotten the raise he got, but he did,most aren’t happy about that.
    Fact 6. Marching and chanting after school with little ones on a bus, and around is not working, nor are the signs.
    Fact 7. The Seniors told Tash exactly how they felt after 2 rounds of negotiations and now teachers aren’t witting college recommendations..Real Mature!!! They want them suspended them for language that they used in a chant.. Grow up and teach them what they did wrong, don’t act worse then a bunch of 17 year olds…bet your salary if they had chanted about Gratto the teachers would be doing college letters. A sin that some of our teachers are acting like this.
    Fact 8. The BOE that sits there are ELECTED like them or not they are there not getting PAID, and the town put them there.
    Fact 9. Most of our teachers are the best around but times have changed and so should the benefit package.The days of blank checks after retirement are over for most..ask Easthampton or Southampton.
    Fact 10. Any Fact Finder that talks about all the wealth that comes here in the summer and employs most in the community doesn’t realize that these parents are with out their jobs or lower incomes due to the recession doesn’t know much about our community. I would reject them also just on that paragraph.
    Fact 11. Both the BOE and Tash need to put this to bed and settle so it doesn’t continue to interfere with the children and their education which is why all parties are supposed to be there for.
    Fact 12. The longer this goes on the worse it is for all in ivolved but mostly the CHILDREN.

  9. bubbalou says:

    Please look up the definition of FACT.
    In FACT, most of the prattle on your page is OPINION. YOURS. And nothing more.
    Please check the RUMOR mill on the issue of the teachers and the writing of recommendations for the seniors involved because that is EXACTLY what that is. RUMOR.
    (It is also a FEAR expressed by some parents, but it does not make it a FACT. It is a RUMOR.)
    POST SCRIPT: OPINION: MINE: The handful of seniors who chose to use the traditional Homecoming as an opportunity to toss out papers with text that boasted about how bad and cool they are and showcased their pride regarding excessive drinking,sneaking alcohol into their hotel rooms on a school trip to Washington DC, bullying kids and forming Klans( their chosen spelling)and pointing out their cross- dressing queer friends (where is the anti-defamation league?) and being “green” “-slang for pot-
    really need some direction and guidance from their parents.

    A swipe at Tash, coming from THIS pitiful group is not very credible is it?

    THE PARENTS who allowed and supported this behavior-(by driving a truck with Tash Bashers written on it, for example)- should be charged with:
    1).POOR PARENTING-for encouraging and/ or allowing their children to act in bad taste at a traditional event that is not a political forum.
    2).COWARDICE- for those parents who were obviously USING their children as a forum for their opinion.
    Students who BOAST about BULLYING must get it from somewhere!
    Fortunately, the majority of the senior class refrained from and even denounced this boorish behavior at Homecoming and should be applauded!
    KUDOS to the on-the-ball parents for teaching kids right from wrong AND proper protocol!

  10. THE FACTS says:

    This pitiful group that have been educated from these teachers,,,hummm got it. Last time I checked kids do stupid things,hopefully they learn from thier mistakes, I believe that all that was said in the chant was FACT,,,including trying to get drunk in 8th grade, bullying which made the paper, I believe the paper has had pictures of the boys cross dressing last week,Oh maybe it was a Rumor or a doctored photo. The fact is ask the newspaper to speak to Mr. Nichols or Gratto about the recomendations and see what they have to say about it,Lets continue the cycle of ignorance and lets not teach the kids what wasn’t right about the whole fiasco and lets just call them names and put them down. Real mature kind of like the T-shirts.

  11. Sag Harbor teacher says:

    “The Facts”? Rather a misnomer, in my opinion. Perhaps if you had teachers as excellent as those in TASH, you would use better grammar, as well.

    The students did not learn intolerance and disrespect from their teachers. In fact, the teachers in Sag Harbor are appalled at the lack of serious consequences on the part of the administration, and we have let our opinion be known.

    Why should a teacher write a college recommendation for someone who is disrespectful? That would be condoning such behavior, and we will never do that. Respect and tolerance are taught in the classroom everyday, but they must be reinforced at home, as well. Apparently, in a small percentage of families, that is not the case. I find that very sad.

  12. bubbalou says:

    FACTS:Sounds like you give an awful lot of responsibility to the teachers for “RAISING” people’s children…I am SO glad to see how much importance YOU REALLY believe teachers have in how children turn out- In spite of your criticism of them. Do you happen to be a parent of one of these “kids who do stupid things”?
    Last time I checked, it was both parents and teachers WORKING TOGETHER who
    made the difference. When parents support this behavior are you expecting that the children would act differently? So are YOU actually suggesting that a consequence for these students should be that they NOT get recommendations so “hopefully they learn from their mistakes”? HMMMMM !! I got it!

    Let’s continue the cycle of ignorance and follow your disconnected thinking.

  13. Sag Harbor says:

    It isn’t about money!!!!! It is about not having a contract!!!! Would you work without a contract?? NO! The teachers want to negotiate. The Board of Education is the ones who are unwilling to come to the table. By doing this they do not have the children’s, the teacher’s, the tax payer’s or the community’s best interests in mind. They have forced the teachers to stand in front of the school weekly- by not doing their job to prevent it! The parent of the child, who walks away from school on Monday afternoon and asks “why is my teacher standing out front of the school” is the same parent that needs to be at the board meetings. Has this world become so busy that people cannot support the wonderful people who teach their children and in some cases spend more time with your children daily, than you do! Again it is not about the money- it is about a community coming together to support each other. Something I thought Sag Harbor was famous for!

  14. double d says:

    Every gray shirt conversation at the dinner table would normally be an educational conversation. I think your all aware that your students are not able to vote. Why then would you use them for your forum of protest? Aren’t there laws protecting children from such exploitation?
    You should be ashamed of yourselves. So much for Mary Poppins Land. Morning program has become just that forum.
    Fight the good fight Dr. Gratto and BOE.
    Everyone else is ” biting the bullet” why can’t you all?

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