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Northport-East Northport school district reaches tentative agreement with teachers

Pulaski Road School, located at 623 Pulaski Rd.

Pulaski Road School, located at 623 Pulaski Rd. in East Northport, is an elementary school in the Northport-East Northport School District that serves students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Credit: Amanda Ostuni

The Northport-East Northport School District and its teachers union have reached a tentative agreement on a new, four-year contract, union president Antoinette Blanck said Monday night.

Both parties had signed a memorandum of agreement by Saturday on a plan that would include pay increases for teachers, along with a caveat to reopen contract negotiations if the district is hit with a significant financial loss as a result of the ongoing litigation with the Long Island Power Authority, Blanck said.

"It's a fair settlement that really is fair to the members, but it's also fair to the community," she said at a district board meeting. "It's respectful of the situation that we're in financially and the potentials down the line with regard to LIPA."

LIPA, which has a power plant in Northport, is pursuing tens of millions of dollars in tax assessments it has paid to the school district and local governments in the past, and is seeking a lower assessment in the future.

If the union pact is approved, teachers would not receive both a step increase in pay and a percentage raise in the same year for the duration of the contract, Blanck said.

John Gross, the attorney representing the district in contract negotiations, did not immediately respond to a call and email seeking comment late Monday.

Union members will meet Thursday to discuss the contract and will vote June 12 on whether to ratify the deal. The school board would then be able to consider and vote on the contract at its June 15 meeting.

If approved, the contract would date back to July 1, 2014. Teachers have been working without a new contract since the previous one expired at the end of June 2014. Under the expired contract, salaries ranged from $49,559 to $126,610.

The two sides reached an impasse in October and have been in mediation since December.

The tentative contract also includes provisions to allow union members to donate sick leave to colleagues who have exhausted their paid time off but still need time to care of a sick or dying family member, or to deal with their own illness, Blanck said. Previously, the board handled each request for such assistance on a case-by-case basis.

The result was that people seeking sick bank assistance could be treated differently.

In one case, a teaching assistant was allowed to count only half of her colleagues' donated hours when taking leave to care for her dying son and then to grieve after his death.

The strict bank time guidelines in the tentative agreement would establish consistency and take the decision-making power out of the hands of the board, Blanck said. A teacher and administrative joint committee would handle sick bank requests.

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