By Marissa Maier
According to Sag Harbor School superintendent Dr. John Gratto, the school board attempted to set-up a negotiation session on Sunday, February 7 with the Teachers Association of Sag Harbor (TASH). School board president Walter Wilcoxen and Dr. Gratto met with TASH leaders Jim Kinnier and Eileen Kochanasz, last Wednesday to propose a day of negotiations this weekend, said Dr. Gratto. He added that the full school board planned to attend the bargaining session. In the past only Dr. Gratto and the school’s attorney Tom Volz have been present during these meetings to negotiate a new contract for the teachers, though the board has been present at informational sessions with TASH.
Kochanasz confirmed on Wednesday that TASH declined the offer to meet on February 7, but has offered 16 alternative dates between February 23 and March 24.
“We weren’t able to match everybody’s calendar and we were given short notice on this,” explained Kochanasz. Of the full board attending a negotiation session, Kochanasz added, “That is a different approach then we have experienced in the past two years.”
Wilcoxen noted that NYSUT, TASH’s union representation, has asked in the past for the full board to be present at negotiation sessions.
“TASH has often mentioned that they think the whole board should be involved. The board wanted to commit a lot of hours on a Sunday so there would be no time constraints. They have a sense of urgency about finalizing this contract,” remarked Dr.Gratto in an interview on Tuesday.
Although Dr. Gratto declined to discuss the details of the board’s current offer, he explained the board has “flexibility within parameters.” To use an analogy, the board’s offer is like a puzzle, and though their end goal is to complete this puzzle, they are able to adjust how the pieces of their offer fit together. For example, Dr.Gratto explained that if TASH made cost-saving concessions in one area the board would have the ability to beef up their offer in another area.
“The major issues are salaries and health insurance. We have options that we think could satisfy the needs of both parties. There has to be a reason for both parties to say yes,” said Dr. Gratto. Kochanasz later said that since the board proposed meeting on February 7 neither party has discussed any contract ideas.