Recognizing concerns in the community over the uncertainty surrounding , teachers at Port Jefferson School District have agreed to a wage freeze in its new two-year contract.
The last contract expired June 2011 and the Board of Education has been hammering out a new agreement with the Port Jefferson Teachers Association every since. Negotiations resulted in a contract that Board of Education President Kathleen Brennan said was “reflective of the difficult economic situation our community faces.” Though she predicted that more work lies ahead.
"There will most likely continue to be the need for shared sacrifice as we move forward,” Brennan said. “Hopefully all stakeholders can work together respectfully and cooperatively to provide our students with the best education possible."
The agreement calls for retroactive raises for 2011-12 except for step increases for eligible teachers and a hard freeze for 2012-13, with no salary or step increases at all.
Other details include teachers taking on an average of 7.5 prep periods per week. According to a statement released by the school district, this is a reduction from 9 periods last year and 10 during the 2010-11 school year. Physical Education, Art, Library and Music will all remain at their current levels with elementary students getting swimming and Health every other week. This, says the statement, will increase classroom contact an average of 60 minutes per week. Teachers will also be with students during technology lab periods.
Grievances by the Port Jefferson Teachers Association were eliminated and the family leave formula has changed. Teachers are required to use two banked sick days for each day of paid childcare leave.
“The financial impact of this new formula will lower the district’s costs for accrued time payouts at the time of retirement while allowing for continuity of instruction when leaves are taken,” the school district said in its statement.
Brian Snow, president of the Port Jefferson Teachers Association was quoted as saying in the statement that all of the teachers understand the challenges the school faces with the LIPA issue still up in the air, especially faculty members who live within the district.
“The more information we have in the future, the better we will be able to establish a new contract that is in the best interests of everyone,” said Snow.