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 Three years ago in June, the POB School District and the PCT settled an historic contract. It wasn’t the largest settlement our union had ever bargained; it didn’t break new ground in the working conditions of our members; in fact, the specific terms of the agreement were thoroughly unremarkable. What was historic was that it was the first settlement we had ever achieved prior to the expiration of the old agreement. Without the rancor that had historically characterized negotiations in Plainview-Old Bethpage, both sides negotiated an agreement that was fair to our union’s members, the school district, the taxpayers of our community and the children we serve.

With less than three months until the end of the school year and the expiration of the PCT’s contracts with the school district, we are challenged to see whether we can build on the advances made in the last round of negotiations and continue to build a new bargaining tradition in Plainview-Old Bethpage - a tradition that views the purpose of negotiations as problem solving rather than confrontational.

Among the problems that the PCT will be seeking to solve is the growing disparity between the salaries of POB staff and the districts to which we are compared. Time and again people in attendance at meetings of the Board of Education are regaled with the outstanding accomplishments of our students. In almost any area, the programs our staff provide are second to none. Yet, our salaries are often thousands of dollars lower than other high achieving districts. To be sure, some of them have a greater ability to pay, having more property wealth per student. Others, however, have less ability to pay but recognize the need to offer competitive salaries.

We will also be looking to remedy some of the problems facing the many newer teachers to the district. Too often, newcomers are given the most difficult assignments, afforded only cursory training and support while being subjected to criticism of their work that appears aimed more at destroying their egos than at building their skills and confidence. We believe it is time to change this "sink or swim" approach to new staff, and we will be putting forth a number of ideas to fix this problem.

These are but two of the more important problems we will be seeking to address when the new round of negotiations begins. For our part, we are prepared to work long and hard to reach agreement with the Board of Education prior to the close of the school year.

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