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Dec 8, 2010 10:20 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Sag Harbor Teachers Contract Pays More But Bumps Up Health Care Contribution

Dec 8, 2010 10:20 PM

After a nearly two-year, deeply acrimonious standoff, the Sag Harbor School Board approved a new contract with its teachers’ union on Monday night, with both sides acknowledging the sore feelings experienced during extended negotiations, saying that they hope the new deal would be the first step on a smoother path to the future.

Under the terms of the agreement, teachers will receive average annual salary increases of 2.6 percent through the 2012-13 school year—annual seniority-based increases will push the average hike to about 5.3 percent a year—and pay a slightly higher contribution toward their health insurance.

The base salary increase ranges from 2.5 percent to 2.7 percent during the six years of the contract, which is retroactive to 2007-08, the year the last teachers’ contract expired. Teachers entitled to seniority, or step, increases would see an average additional 2.7 percent, though step increases are weighted so that newer teachers, with lower salaries, get larger annual percentage increases than higher-paid veteran teachers. Teachers receive a step increase for each of the first 27 years of service. Just eight of Sag Harbor’s 124 teachers have reached the step ceiling and will receive only the base salary increase.

Throughout the protracted contract struggle, the School Board argued that the annual step increases must be included in any salary discussion.

The health care contribution was also a major sticking point during the negotiations. Currently, all teachers pay 15 percent of the annual health insurance premium. Under the new contract, they will pay 17.5 percent, beginning on July 1, 2011. The contract does allow a teacher the option to seek out different health plans from the top-of-the-heap plan they are offered now, a move that would save both the district and the teachers money.

The contract also cuts the amount teachers will be paid for supervising the cafeteria during lunch periods, from $26 per period to about $17 per period, which district Superintendent John Gratto, Ph.D., said will save the district about $19,000 per year. Teachers will also be required to post information about courses, homework assignments, grades, attendance and test dates on the school website.

The agreement finalized on Monday brings to end a dark period for the district, which operated under the shadow of the tense standoff for two full school years. A year ago, teachers led a march from downtown Sag Harbor to the school and took to wearing T-shirts during the school day emblazoned with slogans calling Sag Harbor “a district in crisis.” For a time, public sentiment seemed to lean toward the teachers, but as the economy continued to falter and the budget process last spring showed a 12-percent tax hike for this year, teachers became the targets of criticism by many residents. Board members warned of future layoffs if salaries and health care costs are not brought under control in the long-term.

“This is probably one of the most difficult things we do. We know a lot of different staff personally, our children came up through their ranks—it gets bitter and it got very bitter,” School Board President Walter Wilcoxen said shortly before the board unanimously approved the new contract, which was ratified by the Teachers Association of Sag Harbor last Thursday night.

“This agreement is not the end all for great agreements—it’s just the end of a cycle,” he added.

Teachers union head Eileen Kochanasz, a guidance counselor at the school who retired during the negotiation process, agreed with Mr. Wilcoxen’s assessment that both sides should look toward the future.

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I am so thankful this is finally done! I hope the community can as well focus on the future rather than the unpleasant past two years.
By Mrs.Sea (267), Sag Harbor on Dec 7, 10 9:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
I hope the poor teachers and administrators were able to weather the economic storm that the rest of us have had to endure without knowing how much of a raise they were getting. By the way I've taken a 20% pay cut just to stay employed. I think I will start a fundraiser for the indigent of Sag Harbor School District. You people are pathetic. Have a nice holiday season.
By maxwell (169), speonk on Dec 7, 10 11:40 AM
hey maxwell, mabe you should have been a teacher, cry baby.....
By Clarity (65), Whb on Dec 7, 10 11:49 AM
msmarple--so much for my wishing the community could begin to heal. Until you do know the facts and details, why don't you just try to enjoy the holiday season and pass around some kindness, good wishes and positive thoughts!
By Mrs.Sea (267), Sag Harbor on Dec 7, 10 1:41 PM
Hey Marple, et al, what's the matter, no one can be less miserable than you? This total lack of respect for educators is ludicrous
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Dec 7, 10 2:41 PM
Lack of respect? The teachers in this region have the highest median salaries in the United States. We pay the highest amount per student, per year, for K-12, in the world, at around $23,000.

The union DEMANDS raises significantly higher than the inflation rate in the worst economy since the depression.

This money comes from real families, many of whom are struggling to survive. wither through property taxes or higher rent as a result of property taxes.

Why do you hate ...more
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Dec 7, 10 3:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
And teachers are what, fake people? Give us a break with this teabag philosophy. Not to mention you're a liar. The average elementary teacher salary in the US, including New York, is $40,477.00 and, since you said they are the highest paid in the WORLD have a look at this http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/teacher-pay-around-the-world/ Our teachers work the MOST hours and are behind ten other nations in terms of pay

It is one thing to be filled with irrational hate because ...more
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Dec 7, 10 3:28 PM
Since I did not directly repudiate your b s about us spending more per student than any other country or city in the world, let me do so now: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/edu_edu_spe-education-spending-of-gdp As a percentage of GDP spent on education we rank 57th.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Dec 7, 10 3:35 PM
Razza, You didn't respond to the comment about the exceedingly high median salaries of teachers in this region. It is NOT, by any stretch of imagination, $40,477. The taxpayers who DO know what the salaries are around here have every right to object to their continued and unchecked escalation.

By East End 2 (135), Southampton on Dec 7, 10 7:10 PM
Also remember inflation this year is running just a scant over 1%. In 2009 it finished up with a NEGATIVE (downward, less than 0%)increase. I think it is quite reasonable of taxpayers to resist paying for cost of living increases THAT ARE NOT THERE.
By East End 2 (135), Southampton on Dec 7, 10 7:17 PM
Teachers are from working families too! 2.7 % increases seem fair. Why no mention of health care cost figures, what were they paying under old contract versuss what they will pay under new contract.
By Walt (277), Southampton on Dec 8, 10 4:48 PM
The pay increase is 2.5 percent NOT 5.2%.
By Mrs.Sea (267), Sag Harbor on Dec 7, 10 2:49 PM
Hey, 27East, if that is correct you have made a huge mistake which should be immediately rectified.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Dec 7, 10 2:56 PM
The salary increases vary from 2.5 percent to 2.7 percent, in addition to "step" increases of about 2.5 percent.
By Bill Sutton (112), Westhampton Beach on Dec 7, 10 3:04 PM
Bill Sutton--I believe the salary increases do not vary from 2.5% to 2.7%. What is the percentage of increases for the first two or three years? It is lower than 2.5%--true? This needs to be clarified.
By Mrs.Sea (267), Sag Harbor on Dec 7, 10 4:49 PM
Very misleading and you still do not have the facts right--shame on you!!!!!
By Mrs.Sea (267), Sag Harbor on Dec 7, 10 3:17 PM
What's inaccurate about his statement?
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Dec 7, 10 3:21 PM
The raise is not 2.5 % each year of the contract--and not all teachers received a step increase.
By Mrs.Sea (267), Sag Harbor on Dec 7, 10 3:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you, Mrs. Sea. The teachers will also be paying an extra 2.5% of their health care costs. Only the dumbest among us hate educators.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Dec 7, 10 3:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
calling BS on a pay raise at this time is not hating educators razz, it's called fiscal responsibility. It's rediculous to increase compensation every year via step increases, it doesn't work that way in the real world.
By bigfresh (3906), north sea on Dec 7, 10 4:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
What teachers do is perform and invaluable service in this "real world". Our schools exist to educate our children. Our teachers do that and paying teachers a proper salary IS fiscally responsible.

Now, if you are talking about what they're planning to do over at Tuckahoe spending 100 grand to build "on-campus" housing for a superintendent who makes $155,000/year - THAT is called fiscal irresponsibility and it is something upon which I am sure we could both agree. http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/Tuckahoe/315188/Tuckahoe-Superintendent-Wants-to-Live-In-On-Campus-House-Informational-Meeting-Set-For-December-13

"In ...more
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Dec 7, 10 4:20 PM
These so called teachers are well over paid as it is . The need is for more baby sitters .
By jose1 (28), southampton on Dec 7, 10 5:30 PM
New York has the highest per pupil spending in the US, Long Island has the highest in the state and the east end schools the highest on long island. Do the math. Pay raises whats that. Work only 188 days a year, lets pro rate that pay for onlyworking 3/4 of a year and lets not forget the pensions that are strangling us. Maybe the teachers would like to get paid for bathroom breaks, they get paid for everything else. Some private colleges are cheaper per student then what we pay on LI. Don't hate ...more
By maxwell (169), speonk on Dec 8, 10 10:49 AM
1 member liked this comment
Back up your statements with published facts.

And to suggest that teachers only work on school days is ludicrous. They work after the school year ends, and report before it starts. They work on days when kids don't have school, they spend every weekend grading papers, responding to e-mails and working on lesson plans. They work nights at Parent Teacher Conferences and other school functions. They can't take a vacation whenever they please or take a sick day because they want to do a ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 13, 10 3:11 PM
An awful lot of low-flying rhetoric around here. Of course there aren't $40K teachers here, but $100K is certainly common. Contracts limit teachers' work days and their duties. They all get free periods for lesson prep and grading papers - if they choose to do those tasks on the weekends that's up to them.

There are huge numbers of people in other fields who also have to do work at home nights or weekends and only rarely are they compensated - it comes with the territory. Sick days ...more
By VOS (1143), WHB on Dec 13, 10 8:16 PM
The teachers on the East End make much more money than $40,000 and they have nothing to be ashamed of. If you believe in capitalism then you should accept unions as part of the overall structure. If you think teachers are making too much then maybe should ask for a raise or get another job... I would tell my kids to think about teaching since on Long Island it pays very well…since when is that a bad thing…This country will come out of the recession much faster when people stop living ...more
By jekgbs (35), East Hampton on Dec 13, 10 1:54 PM
Capitalism is one thing.

Abusing clout, power, and influence to heavily line your pockets compared to the majority who support your income level, is another.
By Mr. Z (10704), North Sea on Dec 13, 10 2:18 PM
"Abusing clout, power, and influence to heavily line your pockets compared to the majority who support your income level, is another"

And when Haliburton wins billion dollar non compete contracts under the fiscally conservative Republican leadership..what do you call that..unions, wall street, defense contractors, oil companies they all abuse power, clout and influence...I rather see some local teachers make a few extra bucks then buy the BS being sold to us out of Washington....all we ...more
By jekgbs (35), East Hampton on Dec 13, 10 2:57 PM
I don't condone avarice. Never have, and I never will.

If you have a full belly, it is not necessary to take more from those who have not.

I'll never say you can't be wealthy. What I do say is you CANNOT become it at the expense of another's welfare, or well being.

Whether local, national, or global, malfeasant, avaristic, or criminal behavior must not be tolerated in the accumulation of "wealth". Otherwise, well, look around at the current state of the economy, and ...more
Dec 14, 10 12:34 AM appended by Mr. Z
By the way, it is those people you describe that have filthied our neighborhood with their demented idea of wealth, as well as oversized, and even gargantuan secondary domiciles. Why else is a home "three times the national average"? Because of a local born resident? I DON'T THINK SO.
By Mr. Z (10704), North Sea on Dec 14, 10 12:34 AM
Also, I would suggest that we all gather our "pitchforks and torches", and properly point them in the right direction.

Washington, and Wall St. .
By Mr. Z (10704), North Sea on Dec 14, 10 12:47 AM
I did not mean to click like on that comment. The last time I checked, the real estate on the east end was triple the state average. Where were you expecting the teachers to live?
By hamptonteacher (13), East Hampton on Dec 13, 10 10:04 PM
Move back into your parent's house, or have your parent's help you buy your own, like the vast majority of Gen X...
Dec 14, 10 12:36 AM appended by Mr. Z
Find a way. The rest of us have to, without the clout of a Union behind us.
By Mr. Z (10704), North Sea on Dec 14, 10 12:36 AM
Grading papers on weekends the average teacher only works 4 1/2 hours a day, have 70 more days off then the rest of us. Get paid for every little extra things they do. Lets not forget the insane pensions for working 3/4 of a year. Did you review the highest pension in NY state in last weeks Newsday 9 of the top 10 Long Island and all over 200k. You have got to be kidding me. And i don't see any of the east end schools in the top 10 academically on Long Island. Have never seen and Intel or Seimens ...more
By maxwell (169), speonk on Dec 14, 10 1:13 PM
Most intel or Seimens finalists are associated with Stony Brook professors who obviously are a long drive from the East End. Their parents either work @ Stony Brook, or with someone from the Stony Brook community which provides them an in to a mega-research community.

And, you obviously don't look hard if you've "never seen an Intel or Seimens finalist from the east end". Example: Check page 19, Amanda Holder, Pierson HS, 2010.

http://www.societyforscience.org/document.doc?id=128

Where ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 14, 10 2:50 PM
Sag Harbor Schools has a Intel semi finalist just about every year..Get your facts right...
By sag runner (23), Easthampton on Dec 14, 10 8:38 PM
I believe a few of you have to right idea but are failing to explain it correctly.

Teacher's do deserve to get paid well for a well done job. The problem with the current system is that is DOES NOT reward teachers for a job well done nor does it punish teachers for a crappy job. There are plenty of examples in surrounding districts of terrible teachers who are hidden in non-teaching jobs because the schools cannot get rid of them. THAT's the problem with the current teacher's union.....the ...more
By YEAROUNDER (81), East Hampton on Dec 16, 10 1:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
Agreed.

UNSUSTAINABLE.
By Mr. Z (10704), North Sea on Dec 16, 10 6:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
Can't take a vacation when they want. Let me see a week at Christmas, a week in February a week at Easter and 10 weeks in the summer I feel real sorry for Nature. Only 13 weeks off and better benefits and pensions than 99 % better than most of the population. I don't know how you survive. Can't take sick days who are you kidding. Most get 10 a year oh I forgot you only work 2/3 of a year. I'm glad you all have masters degrees which you also get paid extra for. Extra for lunch duty extra for this ...more
By maxwell (169), speonk on Dec 25, 10 2:52 PM
gurney's, new year's eve, celebration, montauk