2012-03-09 / School

Garden City Public Schools' "Question Of The Week"

In alignment with the Board of Education's goal to enhance communication with the community, Garden City Public Schools continues its "Question of the Week" feature to provide information and address concerns of Village residents. The initial questions will be devoted to examining aspects of the new tax levy cap that have been posed to the Board and administration over the past several weeks. A complete listing of questions and answers to date is posted on the district's website: www.gardencity.k12.ny.us.

Below is this week's question and answer:

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:

Can contracts be renegotiated?

Yes, the district can renegotiate contracts, however, this is a two-party event. Garden City Public Schools cannot unilaterally change the terms of its agreements with the four bargaining units: Garden City Teachers Association, CSEA (civil service), paraprofessionals, and the administrative unit. To re-open a contract would require agreement on both sides.

Typically, each unit has a negotiating team: a labor relations specialist or an attorney for the bargaining unit and the Assistant Superintendents for Business and Personnel plus the district's attorney negotiating for the district.

Without both parties agreeing, a contract cannot be renegotiated, even if the term of the contract has expired. Unlike in private industry, under the 1982 Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law, a public employer is prohibited from altering any provision of an expired labor agreement until a new agreement is reached. This amendment, which was originally approved with the strong support of unions, has the effect of requiring automatic pay increases where a salary step schedule or longevity schedule exists, even though the labor agreement has expired. Consequently, a public employer's salary costs can continue to rise even when labor negotiations have reached an impasse.

In Garden City, a four-year CSEA contract was recently negotiated with an average 1.5% increase over 4 years and give-backs in health care and dental for new employees. Changes in sick leave compensation will save an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 per year through the purchase of a disability policy. Year 3 increases will be partially offset by the disability and new hire health care savings. Year 4 increases will be fully offset by the savings in dental coverage.

The paraprofessionals' contract expires in June of next year, as does the teachers' contract. The administrative unit contract expires this June after a two-year agreement for a 0% increase in 2010-11 and a 2% increase in 2011-2012.

The school district enjoys productive relationships with its bargaining units, but also clearly recognizes its obligation to seek contracts that reflect today's difficult economic environment and demonstrate a commitment to fiscal prudence.

To learn more, visit: www.seethroughny.net.

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