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South Huntington Teachers Endorse 2

Challengers favored over incumbents for 2 board positions.

The South Huntington Teachers Association Wednesday endorsed two challengers running in next week's school board election.

Not surprisingly, much of the union's endorsement letter revolved around the board's decision to cut the ninth period of classes at Whitman in an effort to save more than $1 million through the elimination of about 18 teaching positions. Over a  a series of board workshops to hammer out the final $140 million budget that will go to the voters next week,  many teachers, students and parents spoke out in support of the ninth period. Ultimately, the board killed the ninth period.

The board rejected a teachers' union plan that involved having their members pay an extra $2,300 each toward health insurance costs  and would have saved the Whitman schedule and teachers' jobs but came with several restrictions on teachers' non-classroom hours and other issues that the district administration said it could not accept.

The union endorsed Lisa Brieff and Laci Wright, both PTA presidents hoping to replace the two incumbent candidates, member Melanie Vassallo and board president Jim Kaden. While endorsing Kaden's rivals, the union, which has been engaged in a long-running argument over union givebacks, did acknowledge him, saying, "If he were reelected to his position, it would not be a tragedy.  He is extremely intelligent.  His knowledge and experience give him an advantage over his competitors."

And, the union said, "There are 3 obviously qualified candidates. Unfortunately there are only 2 spots available.it felt the challengers were better choices."

It cited Brieff's support of the ninth period and other academic programs and her criticism of the state of relations between the board and the schools' unions.

While endorsing Wright, the union said, "At every stage, she has shown gratitude and respect for the South Huntington employees in general as well as teachers in particular."

The union was critical of Vassallo, citing some of her comments at board meetings that questioned the pay and workloads of teachers.

Voters will choose two candidates Tuesday and decide the fate of the proposed 2011-2012 budget.

Christina May 11, 2011 at 04:05 PM
I wonder where the South Huntington BOE candidates stand on the relationship with the Town Board? All the articles I have read, they seem to stay far away from that red hot issue and let Huntington School district #3 worry about it. If we bonded together and took on the Town Board as two super school districts, maybe Huntington Station would get cleaned up much faster.
Pam Robinson May 11, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Christina, Thanks for your question. I don't recall the Town Board or issues beyond the school property lines even being mentioned at a South Huntington board meeting. There could, of course, be great drama occurring at executive sessions, I don't know. But Huntington's board had very specific issues, mostly related one way or another to Jack Abrams Intermediate School. I don't know, and of course, don't speak for the South Huntington school board, but the two boards seem to deal with different matters. And the dynamics of the meetings, the tone, what comes up from both the audience and from the board members, how questions from the public are handled, etc., are very different.
Mary Z May 11, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Bob, Yes I understand and agree with what you wrote. There is not one group that can be blamed but unfortunatly it is the kids and then the whole society that will be hurt... I still think though that certain members of the Board are very out of touch with what is actually going on.
stan linden May 12, 2011 at 03:59 PM
It is time for a reality check. Most taxpayers wages are flat and are being asked to share more of the burden for health an dpension cost. It is now time for the teachers to do the same. If not decertify their contracts and hire new teachers under new compensation guidelines. Very soon the only people who will be able to live here are the teachers. They should stop the scare tactics
Judy May 12, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Tim, Sadly, taxpayers do not seem to care that our administrators have been recieving 8 - 10% raises every year during the Shea/Kaden administration, cashing in thousands of dollars in 'sick' days, recieving perks like car allowances... It was brought up last year and even though a packed house heard about the outrageous numbers no one seemed upset. Parents just focused on the loss of their after school clubs. I am baffled. Shea went from $185, 000 to $320,00+ during his tenure in our district, we can't get the teachers to take freezes, we are losing our best Math teachers and a slew of critical courses (computer programming!) and all we can talk about is preserving Football.

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