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Hempstead teachers, with supporters, rally for a raise

Members of the Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association and

Members of the Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association and supporters rallied Monday outside the Hempstead school district in support of a pay raise for teachers. Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware

Teachers in the Hempstead school district and supporters rallied Monday outside headquarters to urge Interim Superintendent Regina Armstrong to negotiate a contract that would align teachers' salaries with those in neighboring districts.

Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association president Nicole Brown said her members have not had a raise since 2010 and that their contract expired in 2013.

"What we want is very simple: We want a fair wage increase," said Brown after the event. "No more broken promises."

Armstrong released a statement through the district’s public relations firm, Garden City-based Gotham Government Relations LLC, that said the school board and administration want to resolve the matter and its next meeting with the teacher’s union is scheduled for May 10.

"We know a settlement will go a long way in fostering a more positive teaching and learning environment for our students," Armstrong said. "Furthermore, in order to deliver on our promise to the Hempstead community, it is critical that we align all of our resources to support student success and I can say with absolute certainty that whatever is ultimately negotiated, will be in the best interest of our students."

Brown cited increased state and federal aid as a way for the district to pay her members like "professionals," who despite the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in their own trauma, showed up remotely or in-person to do their jobs, as well as providing services after the school day.

School districts across Long Island will receive more than $400 million in additional state aid for the 2021-22 school year, with Hempstead set to get a 20.24% increase.

The district is also set to receive millions in federal grants from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

A letter released by the district that was sent to local state officials in March outlined that the federal money can’t be used for recurring expenses such as salaries, and that the charter school funding formula has not changed.

Brown acknowledged that was true but said something can still be done.

"It’s disheartening to know that we are still not close to a fair agreement while reading exorbitant [administrator] salary increases in the 2021-2022 school budget," Brown said. "We don’t feel valued and we don’t feel respected."

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