Teacher Negotiation Update

Posted on 05 February 2010

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.

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6 Responses to “Teacher Negotiation Update”

  1. honesty needed says:

    I can’t quite grasp the opening line: it implies that the school board/Dr. Gratto initiated some monumental effort that the teachers are rebuffing.

    It implies that only the school board and Dr. Gratto are initiating effort toward a meeting.

    That is not credible. When you try to work out a meeting and you only have one day, and its a day that’s very close and you made sure you could make that day, how could it be that you wouldn’t have alternatives or welcome the other party to the opportunity to make the same arrangements you, the purported host made?

    I would say that what this article presents is just how bad the school board and Dr. Gratto are at relating to the teachers.

    Its like, now we did what you want (have the whole board there- and in all this time it wasn’t that way except for “informational meetings”) and you won’t cooperate and you are ruining the wonderful meeting finally agreed to?

    This is not the Superintendent or Board to be in charge of any Bond. Certainly you don’t want people who can’t figure out how to arrange a meeting in a fair and amicable way. And to let it out like this in public?

    Can’t Dr. Gratto figure out that a lot of us observing this think he get demerits and a pay lowering for this kind of shabby management? No way should anybody who cares about parking and money and personnel are managed.

    This is mismanagement of the highest order.

    This is a demonstration of a campaign of disinformation and more than that a stunning admission that Dr. Gratto and the school board are contemptuous of others. Anybody who reads this article can figure out they are a lot of hot air.

    Who can afford that? Its not just the financial cost, either. The disrespect is offensively blatant. Its not feasible that the students of this district are being dealt with in a forthright way and its always essential for that, but now, more than ever.

    This is a kind of emptiness that poisons an atmosphere in many invisible ways.

    Dr. Gratto should have very simply said: We have all agreed that it is a good thing for a negotiation session with the entire board present and the administration and teachers are working hard to bring it about as quickly as possible and look forward to making it as productive as possible.

    Well, that, apparently is just beyond the capablity of Dr. Gratto. Similarly, the Board just can’t get this type of thing done either. This is leadership into the abyss.

    You, Dr. Gratto, and you, the Board, have a sacred trust to establish a decent environment in the school. And you are missing the mark by a mile. Before you keep on in this really disgraceful posture, would you please invest a few dollars in a day of mental health treatment, spiritual guidance and basic manner education.

    You have to stop the dominating because no academic institution can be a wholesome environment with the posture you are taking and putting the teaching faculty in. Its not lost on the kids, either.

    There is something far more important that a parking lot and its cheaper too. The lack of it causes a lot more problems than any statistics the Board ponied up for its Bond.

    Respect: intelligence needed; decency over comes that deficit. Stop the work on the parking bond and spend your time getting yourselves together. Because you are not. And the hurt you are causing isn’t measurable like a toxic site or “cars” blocking anybody (not saying being blocked in a driveway is not important).

    You are wasting the teachers’ time. That is wrong of you.

    Drop the parking and all the other things that you have on your plate. You won’t be able to handle them right. Put your mind and time and money on the human resources matters.

    I don’t intend any meanness here. Dr. Gratto is paid to do better than this. It becomes more and more a reasonable idea that he was brought in by (hopefully) a segment of the Board to be a wrecking ball.

    We can survive parking and other physical inconveniences a lot better than what Dr. Gratto and the Board are doing to this school district. Engaging in the class/trade war fare as they have is really outlandish and they just aren’t even good enough at that either.

    If this isn’t an act, Dr. Gratto should be fired. If it is, he and the whole board better figure out a very decent kumbayah for the teachers. Maybe all they care about is how much they “saved” the tax payers. It begins to become clear that its about “winning” and looking “strong” and “saving the community”.

    You just quietly come to an agreement that includes an agreement to say you are all happy. This should save what it looks like you are interested in the most: your ego. Does Dr. Gratto get increases based on the amount of money he “saves” the Board? (I mean the tax payers).

    We all know that at the end of the day, if everything crashes, nobody, not even teachers will be at the top of any heap. Maybe the teachers can figure out language that will commit them to not profiting in a bankruptcy in ways that will hurt others, as the unions in the car industry did to an extent. Teachers lost pensions in that travesty the same as anybody.

    The Board should commit here and now to table the parking until next year. They couldn’t possibly work with the community on that issue. Put the teachers’ contract first. Get better at playing in the sandbox, and then maybe you can handle the parking in a responsible (responsive and sensible) way.

  2. Kevin Major says:

    “Hey, we tried.” I can hear the Board stating this loud and clear at this Monday’s (2/8) meeting. I agree, they did tried and succeeded. “To cause more anger and frustration”.

    February 7th, as almost anyone drawing a breath in the US knows, is Super Bowl Sunday. A day that has become sort of a family holiday. Plans for some events have been in place for months. Some gatherings are as traditional as Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Board offering this day to come together to negotiate is so phony, it’s laughable. The Board seems to be doing everything in its power to continually stir the pot. As a parent of a Sag Harbor student, I’m appalled at the “life lesson” my child might take away from this experience, that being, if you don’t want to make an agreement, just make it impossible or unlikely to get the sides to come together.

  3. Failed Breathalizer says:

    Dear “Honesty Needed”

    Consider this an intervention.
    You shouldn’t drink and post. The vomiting of grammatical errors and sulfurous personal attacks don’t help anyone and just make you look silly.

    Mr. Major, you answered your own question: Your child’s “take away” is that a bunch of steroidal C students playing football is much more important than teachers and board members getting together on behalf of education.

  4. Kevin Major says:

    Thank you “failed breathalizer”. When is your next test?

  5. EastEnder says:

    Can’t we just say the board gave a date, the TASH team couldn’t all attend yet gave alternative dates to meet. I’m assuming the Board will now pick dates they are all available (from TASH’s list) and go from there, right? Does every article have to balloon into a “he said – she said” type of debate or rivalry. I agree the negotiation process has been frustrating, but don’t you think some of you bring it upon yourselves by reading just a bit too deep into it?

  6. All things considered says:

    Well said, EastEnder!

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