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Lindenhurst board of ed to vote on contract for teachers

The Lindenhurst board of education is expected to vote Wednesday on a new collective bargaining agreement with teachers, who have been working without a contract for nearly five years.

The Teachers Association of Lindenhurst, the union representing teachers in the district, ratified the proposed contract on Monday, according to the group’s president, Michael Pastore. He did not give a tally, but said that of the union’s 542 members, 466 voted and the result was “overwhelmingly supportive” of the agreement. The school board must now approve the proposal.

“We’re going to ensure the continuance of programs, we’re going to achieve long-term savings for the district, offer a retirement incentive and we’re going to secure for the teachers forward progress and security for the first time in nearly five years,” Pastore said.

Teachers have been without a contract since June 2011, but under state law, the union’s expired contract — which includes 2 percent step raises but no annual salary increases — can continue indefinitely until a new contract is reached. In 2014 the district reported the average teacher salary to be $98,039.

The proposed contract states that from July 1 of this year through June 2020, teachers will not receive step increases and will receive a flat annual raise of $2,000. Pastore said the increases are “fair in comparison to what the other districts are doing.”

Negotiations between the district and TAL reached a low point in the fall of 2014, after the release of a report by a state-appointed fact finder, which the district requested after it said negotiations with the union were not progressing. The report recommended a contract with mostly pay and step freezes or just one or the other in modest increases, a proposal that TAL rejected.

School board president Donna Hochman declined to comment on the proposed contract before Wednesday’s vote but said negotiations had become more productive in recent months and the board has “come a long way” in its relationship with TAL.

Pastore, who took office in the fall, agreed, saying that “communication more recently has opened up and there’s been more of a comfortable relationship” which he attributed to “people being willing to listen on both sides.”

The proposed contract can be viewed on the district’s website under the meeting agenda. The vote will take place at a special meeting of the board of education at 7 p.m. at the middle school.

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