BLOG: Miller Place Gets While Other Districts Give, MPTA Accepts New Contract

MP BOE with much help from other groups secures the District’s financial future

The Miller Place Board of Education (BOE), with the help of the Miller Place Teachers Association (MPTA), the Miller Place Administrators Association (MPAA), and this community, appears to have secured our fiscal situation for the next several years. The year-to-year budgetary angst may finally have been put to rest.

The Miller Place Teachers Association has overwhelmingly voted to accept a new four year contract that will save most of the teachers that would have been laid off while also saving the District considerable expenses. (Details after checklist). Thank you MPTA! We needed you to make this happen.

The checklist below highlights the goals and successes of this BOE:

Propose the budget within the tax cap - CHECK

Pass the budget - CHECK (with a 69% approval vote from community)

Secure four-year contract with MPTA which provides a foundation for a longer term stability in the district - CHECK (with a 68% approval)

Save most teachers from layoffs - CHECK

Save programs - CHECK

Save sports and clubs - CHECK

Improved budget process (community input about the budget process through the Budget Process Advisory Committee and Budget FAQ) - CHECK

Address the curriculum issue (Asst. Supt. Hodun’s new role) - CHECK

Do so in cost neutral manner - CHECK

Address issue of superintendent continuity - CHECK

Address Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) with  resident expert Seth Lipshie  - CHECK

Bring fiscal responsibility/confidence back to the District - CHECK

Retain valued HS Principal Kevin Slavin - CHECK

Offer a 2nd health plan option that lowers costs to teachers and lowers District healthcare costs – CHECK

According to an MPTA member, some details about the new agreement:

  • 4 year extension (after this year)
  • "0"/"00" steps added to start of salary schedule
  • Coaches salaries freeze for year 1 & 2
  • Formation of an additional sick bank (teachers can be granted extra sick day instead of receiving compensation for chaperoned events and class coverages)
  • 2012-13: .4% raise plus step
  • 2013-14: .6% raise plus step
  • 2014-15: .8% raise plus step
  • 2015-16: .9% raise plus step
  • A 2nd health plan option that lowers costs to teachers
  • The District will not ask for concessions for the life of this MOA

This deal is worth about $2 million in savings to the District over the next four years. The District will be paying the 2.7% they owed the teachers next year spread over the next four years as four smaller raises (.4%,.6%,.8%, and.9%) which is like paying them 2.7%,0%,0%,0%.

Layoffs were avoided which also saved the District about $400,000 in unemployment compensation. A few teachers were reduced from full-time status to permanent sub status which is very unfortunate. I had hoped that no full-time jobs would be lost.

Another major victory was getting an additional health care plan in the contract by January 2013, which can potentially save the district much money in the future. This plan will cost less for teachers who buy in and will reduce healthcare costs. It is a win-win.

A huge thanks to the Miller Place PTO for donating $95,000 last night which will reinstate several clubs that have been gone for years such as clubs for AMPS, LADSBS, Varsity Club, Lego League or Junior Robotics, Mathletes, Mock Trial, as well as several others to be determined by the BOE. The MPTO certainly fulfilled their “for the kids” mission with this donation. While other Districts are cutting, Miller Place will be adding!

We must also thank the leadership of Miller Place Athletic Boosters Club, Miller Place Friends of the Arts, and Miller Place Robotics Booster Club for agreeing to stand together in solidarity that there be no cuts to any programs or there would be “no” votes from all groups.

The Miller Place Community was also instrumental in achieving these goals. The Community was united about keeping the programs and staying within the tax cap while avoiding the usual playing one segment against the other. In our solidarity there was great strength and this BOE heard our message loudly and clearly.

All of the items in the above checklist were accomplished in under one year. Although there are a few remaining issues to deal with, after seeing this amazing checklist, I feel quite confident that we have the right BOE, the right Admin and the right union leaders in place to get the job done.

Marc Bloom, Vice-President of the Miller Place Athletic Booster Club said it best in an email to me today:

“Last year at this time we were in a very bad spot…..but no one knew it.  We have spent the last 12 months wishing we were Mt. Sinai, Rocky Point, etc.  ‘Why does Mt. Sinai have this, that and others?’ Now everyone is asking “How did Miller Place do it?”

When we all work together with open and courteous lines of communication and are led by a fiscally-responsible BOE that carries our pro-education message, good things will happen. That is how Miller Place did it.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Justin Time June 26, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Isnt it amazing how all the "check" marks were approved on a budget that had a 3% restriction on it! Re-read the "check" items again, see which benefit the teachers vs public. The Saving unemployment cost is no more than a tempoary cost to the government, whereas keeping the teachers is a permanent cost to the MP taxpayer. Federal unemployment is paid by the US taxpayer in total. The 400 thousand saved is not a savings to MP but a drop in the bucket to the Federal government. Consider the cost "saving" teachers jobs cost MP Taxpayers, add together their salaries, benefits and other costs as sick pay, etc, then see how much MP saved. The average tax bill increases 6.7% average PER YEAR over the past 10 years, how come it couldn't it been limited to a 3% cap by the BOE during those years. Easy answer:GREED and take all you can until forced to stop, which finally happened in this last budget.
Captain Howard Hawrey June 26, 2012 at 01:16 PM
I have been in contact with Mike Unger and I can say that the BOE has been really trying to do the right thing by us taxpayers. There is no doubt that due to budgets passed over many years that the "straightening out, reality check" needed is not easy to accomplish. What the BOE fails to realize is that they can put alot of questions to rest if they were more forth coming on sites like this to explain what has been going on behind the scenes. There are many risks in doing so but it would help many of us who are questioning what is really going on. I agree that this is the best budget passed in years though I voted no as I still feel there is still fat to be trimmed and efficiency to be gained. I hope we continue in the fiscally responsible direction we seem to be heading in right now.
Justin Time June 26, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Those who benefit vote YES Sad that a cap had to slap the hands of the greedy. If the budget would have stayed at that rate for the past 10 years, rather than running rampant and being passed, MP could have had 30% less in taxes which would have been a nice savings for the homeowner. Maybe, even some people would have even been able to keep their houses, maybe, young people would even be able to afford a house. Yes, high taxes are the reason many houses are on the market today, you can thank everyone in Miller Place that voted YES on that. Keep on passing those budgets, turn out those "well informed" students, and be proud of #768 in the rosters!
Mark Larson June 27, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Here is why it is so important to work together -- like what is being done here in MP: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-stockton-bankruptcy-20120627,0,2285815.story Stockton, CA, a city of 300,000, has declared bankruptcy. That means all contracts are going to be rewritten or cancelled outright by a judge or a panel that might not welcome any input at all from the effected parties. This is why it is so important to continue to work together here in MP so that the fate of the District is not put into someone else's hands. Good progress is being made here -- don't stop now.
MP Majority June 27, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Declining and aging Long Island population, runaway healthcare costs, and unfunded pension liabilities all spell major trouble for our region. Anyone who doesn't see that needs an economic education. We are still paying way too much for education, since "our paltry 2.7% increase" is predicated on all the fat that has been accumulated over the last 10 years. Cuomo should be highly commended for his start to reduce taxes and limit the power of Unions across the state. However, we are still in deep trouble in our region. Perhaps when we start defaulting on pension payments, the Unions will wake and realize that this is all a function of greed and inept budgeting.


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