Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 30 November 2012 00:00
The Mineola School District and the Mineola Teachers Association (MTA) finally ended an employee contract tussle, District Superintendent Michael Nagler revealed on Thursday, Nov. 15. The deal was ratified earlier that day.
Before the agreement was reached, the 275-member MTA had operated without a contract since June 30, 2011 but negotiations date back to 2010, Nagler said. An impasse was declared on Oct. 19, 2011 after negotiations broke down between the MTA and the district.
While there are no salary increases when a district has no agreement in place with a teachers group, Mineola still had to pay STEP increases, according to the Triborough Amendment in the Taylor Law. The law prohibits a public employer from altering any provision of an expired labor contract until a new agreement is reached.
Representatives from both sides met with impartial mediator Howard Edelman and relented on issues plaguing contract talks. The MTA, Edleman and the district had met on 10 occasions including April 17 and Aug. 23, reported first by the Mineola American, before agreeing to a new contract. Nagler indicated that the new 2 percent tax levy cap altered “traditional oppositional bargaining.”
The previous agreement in Mineola called for a 3.5 percent raise each year for the duration of that contract, with year-to-year increases between 1.5 and 2 percent. Teachers contributed approximately 15 percent to medical benefit costs. The ratification of the teachers contract is a first of five open contracts currently in the district.
In 2012-13, the teachers are deferring STEP increases for the first six months, staying at a 2011-12 salary. Starting Feb. 1, 2013, teachers will move up one STEP. Starting in the 2013-14 school year, teachers will get a .5 percent increase with STEP paid in February until 2014-15.
“The Mineola Teachers Association is pleased that we were able to reach an agreement in these difficult economic times,” MTA President Teresa Hafner said in a statement. “As always, we continually strive to provide our students with the best possible education so they can meet the challenges of the future.”
The new Annual Professional Performance Review Plan (APPR) and the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap factored heavily into contract discussions, according to district officials. Under the new APPR plan, 60 percent of teacher ratings would be based on classroom observations, 20 percent on students’ scores on state standardized tests, and 20 percent on a list of three scoring options.
That could include locally developed tests, exams offered by third parties or a simple doubling of the value placed on the state tests. School boards would have to negotiate the final 20 percent with local unions.
Any school district that does not implement the new APPR by January 2013 will lose school aid. Mineola instituted the plan in July.
“The levy cap in my opinion changed the way we negotiated,” Nagler stated. “Typically, we do what I call oppositional bargaining. You go back and forth, you both have a position you’re starting with and whatever that position is, and you try to justify it. The levy cap basically made it simple. You had to stay within 2 percent of all the monies so it cuts to the chase.”
Salaries, pension and health cost were clear-cut talking points during discussions, Nagler said. Year-to-year increases (STEP), percentage increases or column movement, which are monies earned for additional credits above a master’s degree, are three ways for salaries to increase.
Teachers in Mineola who were in STEPs 1-15 get 3 percent increases every year, which accounts for 43 percent of the district’s staff. Nagler indicated that 49 percent of teachers had had increases frozen in 2012, while salaries are frozen at steps 15, 20 and 25.
District officials stated that an overall STEP increase in the district is 1.5 percent of the duration of the deal. If the MTA didn’t negotiate and relied on the Triborough Amendment, it would have cost Mineola 6 percent for the next four years.
“They didn’t do that,” Nagler said. “They did make concessions not only in money but in language. So the total package is a settlement of 4.75 percent over four years.”
Friday, 13 December 2013 00:00
Station Plaza Diner owner Nick Liakonis indicated he has submitted a lease proposal to Winthrop-University Hospital on Dec. 4 concerning the revamp and reconstruction of the “Welcome To Mineola” sign that sits atop his building at the
Mineola Long Island Rail Road Station. He said hospital reps asked in mid-September that he begin to draw up plans.
The location of the sign offers good exposure for the hospital if Winthrop secures the roof for rent and renovation. Winthrop is currently constructing a new $80-million, 95,000-square-foot diabetes research facility directly north of the sign, at the corner of Mineola Boulevard and Second Street, and expressed interest in the sign two months ago.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
Carmela Solomon, who has two children in the Mineola School District, is sad to say that learning is not fun for her sons anymore.
“It’s gotten better but it hasn’t been an easy couple of months and I fear the standards,” she said to about 70 concerned parents and educators at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at Mineola Middle School. Her fear: second- and third-graders will have to go to summer school.
A panel of teachers and administrators—Assistant Superintendent Patricia Burns, Middle School Principal Matthew Gaven, Jackson Avenue School Principal Cindi Gonzalez, English language arts developer Jodi Helming and mathematics coordinator Nicole Bartone — faced parents concerned about the new state standards and testing in the “common core curriculum.” Superintendent Michael Nagler moderated the talk.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
Students in the Karatatot Kids program at Charles Water Karate And Fitness in Williston Park get a chance to participate in “Special Time” at the end of each class. This is an opportunity for them to share something special in their lives with their teacher. It was created by Charles Water for the Karatatot class students to have a productive and fulfilling class and the children wait to the end to share their thoughts.
Karatatot is a combination of exercise and karate in a format specifically designed for children ages 4½ and up. In a fun filled and nurturing setting children learn concentration, discipline, respect, as well as an understanding of self defense at his or her own level. The results are improved strength, coordination, and flexibility and the self confidence for children.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
MAA Soccer is offering an indoor soccer program during January and February for soccer players born from 2006-2009. Each registrant will enjoy six, one-hour training sessions on Saturday’s during the first two months of 2014. The program is managed by MAA’s training partner, Empire Soccer Academy, and is designed to encourage soccer skills improvement through fun and challenging drills and games.
The clinics take place at the Mineola Village Community Center gym at 155 Washington Avenue. For more information, please visit www.mineolaaa.org or email email@example.com.