The Montauk School District is the only Long Island school district that has not yet submitted a required teacher evaluation plan to the New York State Education Department.
Superintendent Jack Perna said the district is close to forming the plan with its teachers union, the Montauk Teachers Association, and plans to have it submitted before the state’s January 17 deadline. He pointed out that the district and the union still haven’t come to terms on a new contract to replace the one that expired about year and a half ago. The teacher evaluation plan would be an “addendum” to the teachers contract.
“We’re not there yet,” Mr. Perna said. “That’s all I can tell you. Somebody was going to be last. We’re still working on it.”
The New York State Education Department issued a press release on January 2 stating that Education Commissioner John B. King had approved 533 plans, also known as Annual Professional Performance Review evaluation plans. To date, 682 school districts had submitted their plans. Montauk and eight other districts statewide had not submitted them. Districts that don’t submit plans by January 17 could lose their state aid increases this year.
The teacher evaluation plan is designed to grade teachers and administrators. It is made up of three parts—20 percent is based on state assessments; 20 percent would be based on local testing; and 60 percent is based on an observation by a principal, said Mr. Perna.
Mr. Perna said he doesn’t think too highly of the new state requirement to implement the plan because it is a unfunded mandate that takes a lot of time to piece together.
“I think it was a way for politicians to make good with their constituents because it seems very popular to all of a sudden start bashing education,” Mr. Perna said.
Colette Clancy, the president of the Montauk Teachers Association, a group of about 40 teachers, said part of the difficulty in negotiating a teacher evaluation system lies in the fact that Montauk is a small school and “teachers wear different hats.” She also said devising a plan is “very complicated.”
“You could probably take a college course on it, probably, just trying to understand it,” Ms. Clancy said.
She said the discussions about the evaluation plan have not been “a contentious process” between the union and district.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re coming close to an agreement and hopefully we’ll have something in the very near future,” she said. “Other than that I can’t comment on specifics since we’re still negotiating.”
The teachers contract negotiations are at an “impasse,” Mr. Perna said. Currently, the two parties are participating in a “fact-finding hearing” conducted by the New York State Public Employees Relations Board, or PERB. Both sides will submit their proposals for a contract, and a non-binding decision will be rendered by PERB, according to Ms. Clancy. The deadline for submissions to PERB is in March, Mr. Perna said.
Both Mr. Perna and Ms. Clancy declined to discuss specifics of negotiations. When asked if any concessions or givebacks were being offered by the teachers, Ms. Clancy said “I’m really not prepared to discuss that.”
Ms. Clancy summed up the tone of negotiations between the district as “disappointing.”
She said that teachers and other union members were aware that the district was facing constraints imposed by the 2-percent tax cap. “We’re very mindful of that, we’ve kept that in mind,” she said. “Let’s just say that, keeping that in mind, we still haven’t come to an agreement. We’re hoping that at some point we can.”