We're mobilizing our members to attend Board of Education and UPTC meetings. Wear your blue GNTA t-shirt and let's show everyone that GNTA is involved, informed, and union strong! Please add your name to our sign up sheets right here!
Several weeks ago I reported to you that the Board of Education, in response to pressure from some community members, had presented a six-year budget forecast. In the “personnel salaries” line for each year from 2015-2016 through 2018-2019, the Board projected 2% increases. I also told you that I had asked for a meeting with the Board to discuss GNTA’s concerns about this projection.
On Friday, May 30, Jim Daszenski (VP for Administration), Jennifer Snyder (VP for Professional Rights and Responsibilities), Kim Semder (VP for Contract Improvement), and I met with the Board and Dr. Dolan. All five members of the Board were present, which we felt (particularly on a Friday afternoon at 4:00!) was a mark of respect for GNTA. We had a very straightforward discussion, which lasted for about an hour.
We began by describing our dismay at the 2% salary figure. We explained that this appeared to be an opening shot across the bow in negotiations, nearly nine months prematurely, made worse by being public. We summarized our financial history for the last five years, reminding the Board of the sacrifices we made in the last and the current contracts. Kim described how we create a package of contract proposals through the CIC and how important that democratic process is to us as a union. We acknowledged the financial and community pressures that the Board is facing, but we also outlined the pressures GNTA members are feeling. We clearly communicated that we are committed to representing the interests of the faculty and negotiating a fair contract, no matter how long that takes.
The Board listened respectfully and asked several questions. President Barbara Berkowitz responded that a budget, particularly projected over a long term, is merely a blueprint, and that the Board could not possibly know a specific number to put in the personnel salary line prior to completed negotiations. She explained that they chose the 2% figure based on the 2% tax cap and that the Board recognizes that it is too early to speak about negotiations in concrete terms. Finally, she assured us that the Board intends to negotiate in good faith with us and is keeping an open mind.
We felt that the discussion was fruitful for both sides. We did caution the Board that we might break somewhat with tradition, should negotiations become protracted, and provide our members with more information about our progress than we have in the past. We do NOT feel that this blog, which is easily accessible to the public, is an appropriate forum for such information. To that end, PLEASE provide us with a personal email address for you by clicking the link below, if you haven’t already done so. It may become your only source of information on negotiations.
Personal Email Contact Form
On May 21, Great Neck residents overwhelmingly approved the 2014-15 school budget by a vote of 1,679 to 444, a 79% approval rate. Members of both GNTA and our Retired Educators Chapter reached out to active (and former) educators living in the district to ask for their support in passing the budget.
It was also a big night for the Board of Education's incumbent trustees. Both Lawrence R. Gross and Susan Healy were reelected to 3-year terms with vote totals of 1,494 and 1,490, respectively. GNTA's Executive Board unanimously supported the incumbents over challenger Chien Huang who garnered just 864 votes. Both Mr. Gross and Ms. Healy have demonstrated that they are strong advocates for public education in Great Neck, and we look forward to our continued collaboration to provide the children of this community with an outstanding public education.