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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.

Mary May 11, 2011 at 12:55 PM
To this day it still baffles me as to why anyone would think that Middle school sports are more important then academic classes. Students at the high school in many cases are preparing for college... Taking away one period will hurt these students dramatically...
Robert W May 11, 2011 at 01:22 PM
Gee what a shock! The sham of an offer the SHTA made to the board was nothing more than grandstanding. 3 years in a row the union was asked to help out and 3 years their answer was NO! Nobody out there will be getting a 5 percent pay increase this year (step + increase) To give up the 2 percent raise to save EVERYTHING and not do it is shameful.They werent asked to give up the step raise. Districts all over long island have done this. So now the union is endorsing two teacher friendly candidates no surprise. Teachers are important but need to get off their holier than thou attitude and come back to the real world.
Judy May 11, 2011 at 01:22 PM
Totally agree, Mary. We are cutting critical classes in the High School, retiring the majority of our senior math teachers, significantly reducing the academics. Where are these kids going to work after they finish school?
Judy May 11, 2011 at 01:26 PM
These are not 'teacher friendly ' candidates. They are education friendly candidates. In order to get elected these candidates have to appear 'friendly' or the union can be very effective in keeping them off the BOE. Time for change, let's vote these 2 candidates in and try for better communication in order to achieve better results. The team we have now is not working out - that's one of the reasons why our teachers' aren't making the concessions we need. We need at least 1 board member with a child in the schools - right now none of our BOE members (or Dr. Shea) have any idea of what is happening in real time in the school. And they have nothing to lose by cutting back classes and 9th period.
Mary Z May 11, 2011 at 01:39 PM
I don't know what is going to happen. I know of students that had chosen classes aimed for either their after high school careers or college only to find out that they would have to drop them for the 8 period day. Other school districts were able to figure it all out without dropping a whole period. In regards to sports, how many students actually get athletic scholarships anyway? Most scholarships are based on academics. It still boils down to the three R's! Shouldn't a school be pushing academics over sports? Lastly, think of the money that was spent on that "wonderful" artifical turf at WWHS! Nobody seems to talk about that anymore. I am just waiting for some experts to come out again and say they are dangerous to our health - it's just a matter of time before that happens.
Mary Z May 11, 2011 at 01:51 PM
My last question/comment on this is "Why are they cutting staff that in many cases make under $20,000 a year (ie; paras)?" Wouldn't it be effective to cut a couple of highly paid uneffective teachers or administrators? Please don't tell me there aren't any there! Ask any parent or student and they will give you a list. We all can burn out, even teachers! I don't attend board meetings because I hear what goes on there. I hear about the condesending attitude of the current board and administration who claim to know the day in and day out activities at our schools - Most don't have a clue! Bottom line, it's the students that are getting hurt and they are our future.... corny but true! It's a snowball effect and those who made these decisions today will be hurt in the future too because these kids are not being prepared properly but I guess that's okay because they will be really good at sports!
Tim Brennan May 11, 2011 at 02:11 PM
How about asking the BOE why they would approve giving admins a 3 yr 0%,0%,2% contract while giving them additional vacation days to cash out at 100% at year's end to offset monies lost from freeze? They also increased the pay out percentage of their unused sick days . Who's screwing who here?
Bob May 11, 2011 at 03:59 PM
"don't know what is going to happen. I know of students that had chosen classes aimed for either their after high school careers or college only to find out that they would have to drop them for the 8 period day. other school districts were able to figure it all out without dropping a whole period." Mary, Other school districts were able to figure it out because teachers in those districts made wage concessions. Wage concessions that have a long term beneficial impact on the budget. Our teachers and their union rep chose not to do this...rather proposing a one time give back. One that the board told the union would be rejected because of it's 'stop gap' mentality. The union chose to propose it anyway in a grandstanding gesture. All of the blame can not be placed on the board.
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 (Editor) 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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