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Mineola School District Adopts APPR Plan

Teacher contract negotiations still ongoing

The Mineola School District adopted its Annual Professional Performance Review Plan (APPR) last week. The APPR has been the subject of much scrutiny and is still in its infancy of being utilized across New York State.

The state requires that every school district and BOCES negotiate and adopt an annual review plan that evaluates teachers and principals. District Superintendent Michael Nagler said it has to be negotiated in “good faith” and all parties have to sign off on a plan and submit their review through an online portal dubbed the “Review Room.”

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, tests 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 their local unions.

Any school district that does not implement the new APPR by January 2013 will be forced to forgo its share of an $805 million increase in school aid planned for this year. Had Mineola not adopted a plan by January, Nagler estimated the district would have lost about $50,000 in state aid. Calls to the state education department were not returned.

“In the event that it is not negotiated, districts are allowed to impose their own plan,” Nagler said. “It still must be negotiated over time. In the interim of the negotiations that are occurring, we must still comply with the law and have a plan on file. This resolution is imposing an APPR that we will follow until it’s negotiated with the teachers.”

School district principals have come to an agreement on APPR, Nagler revealed. The plan was unanimously passed, sans Trustee Terence Hale, who was absent from the meeting for undisclosed reasons. The district is still in talks with the Mineola Teachers Association (MTA).

“Attached to [the APPR] are state monies,” Nagler stated. “Mineola did apply for a management efficiency grant. There are extra points allotted if a plan is submitted and approved by Sept. 1.”

The district and the MTA have held seven meetings since the April 17 meeting, reported first by the Mineola American. The district’s impartial mediator, Howard Edelman has dealt with numerous contract squabbles, including deliberations for the Freeport School District and Hewlett-Woodmere School District. He did not return calls seeking comment.

“We’re making incremental progress,” noted Nagler. The district and the MTA are scheduled to meet next on Aug. 23.

“We have declared an impasse on the custodians and the aides,” Nagler revealed. “We have been assigned a mediator and have tentative [meeting dates] in September. Concerning clerical staff, we have not established a mediator yet. I began preliminary talks with administrators. This is the first time we came to the table. We’re not at an impasse yet with them.”

The 275-member MTA has operated without a contract since June 30, 2011. While there are no salary increases when a district has no agreement in place with a union, Mineola still has to pay STEP increases, according to the Triborough Amendment in the Taylor Law, which prohibits a public employer from altering any provision of an expired labor agreement until a new agreement is reached.

“It sounds like the principals to a point, have agreed to what’s been submitted or what’s being submitted,” Board President William Hornberger said. The MTA reviewed the APPR plan on July 18.

School districts like West Hempstead, after a two-year contract battle, agreed to no STEP increase until 2013 last May. Nagler did not indicate if Mineola would take a similar approach. MTA President Teresa Perrotta Hafner did not return calls for comment.

The previous agreement in Mineola called for a 3.5 percent raise each year for the duration of that contract, with STEP increases between 1.5 to 2 percent. Teachers contributed approximately 15 percent to medical benefit costs.