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Teachers union to meet Thursday to discuss tentative pact

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. Photo Credit: Amanda Ostuni

Teachers union members are to meet Thursday to discuss a tentative agreement with Northport-East Northport schools.

A vote has been scheduled 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.

The tentative pact would provide raises -- and the ability to reopen negotiations if the district faces major financial losses in its legal fight with the Long Island Power Authority.

"I truly think it's a fair deal, and I'm hopeful that it will pass my membership," union president Antoinette Blanck said at a district board meeting Monday, at which representatives for the two sides signed a memorandum of agreement on a four-year contract.

Blanck said the deal was respectful of the community's finances and took into consideration the potential challenges that the LIPA case could create. The proposed contract would allow for reopening the contract for financial concessions in the case of a "traumatic decrease in revenue," she said.

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 it is seeking a lower assessment.

If the municipalities lose the suit, they could be responsible for paying any over-assessments the courts find dating back to when LIPA filed the tax challenge in October 2010.

If the union approves the tentative pact, 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, was unavailable for comment.

If approved, the contract would be retroactive 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.

Union officials had previously said they would be more aggressive in negotiations after news broke last fall that the district had overestimated spending by about $34 million over a period of five years. The pattern of over-budgeting and underspending angered teachers, who declared an impasse Oct. 16. The two sides have been in mediation since December.

At the time, Blanck said leaders of the 5,693-student district should have been transparent with voters and union members about budgeting tactics and how tax money has been used in recent years.


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