Herricks school board, union ratify new contract

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Herricks Superintendent Fino Celano said that he hopes Herricks will be able return to "a strong sense of community" now that a new teacher contract has been ratified. (Photo by Tom McCarthy)

After 16 months of negotiations, the Herricks Board of Education has ratified a new contract with the Herricks Teachers’ Association that raises salaries by 5.3 percent over five years.

The board acted last Thursday after the union voted in favor of the contract.

“I am pleased to report that the memorandum of agreement was completed and executed on Oct. 10 and has been ratified by the union and tonight by the board,” board President Juleigh Chin said.

The new contract is retroactive to July 1, 2018, and ends on June 30, 2023, Chin said.

Superintendent Fino Celano said the salary schedule will change, based on “steps,” which are based on length of experience in the district and graduate credits. The number of steps toward top pay has been extended from 25 to 30, and teachers are limited to one movement a year, Celano said.

Also, teachers will not receive step increments in year 3 of the contract when they move to the new salary schedule.

Personal leave and family sick leave, which was previously unlimited, has now been capped, Chin said. Pay rates for chaperones in the district have been modified to “clearly define” the rates for events on and off school grounds, Chin said. Elementary school teachers will have a uniform “prep period” of 40 minutes on school days, which Chin said will result in more “efficient scheduling” and a greater amount of instructional time with students.

The amount of group life insurance provided by the board for each faculty member has increased from $20,000 to $25,000, Chin said.

The district did not disclose the new salary levels.

According to a 2013 report on teacher salaries on Long Island by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, kindergarten teachers had an average salary of $94,730, ranging from $44,470  to $135,580, elementary school teachers had an average salary of $96,860, ranging from $57,970  to $133,690, middle school teachers had an average salary of $97,920, ranging from $64,210  to $136,870, and high school teachers had an average salary of $96,250, ranging from $64,280 – $133,120.

“This settlement is not only fair and equitable for both sides but it is also sustainable for the district and will result in long-term savings for the district,” Chin said.

Herricks teachers had been working under their old contract after it expired in June 2018, Celano said.

The Herricks trustees said that now that the contract has been ratified, it is time for the community to move on.

“We have such a strong sense of community here and I felt this when I first arrived five years ago,” Celano said. “Unfortunately there were things done and said in the past year and a half that broke them down.”

He continued, “It is my hope that we get back to that and we should get back to that where we’re working as a family.”

Nydia Degliomini, president of the teachers association, said that it was a “long and hard process” to draft a fair and equitable contract for the Herricks faculty.

“We worked really hard and we’re really glad we got to this point,” she said.

Degliomini said that the union will focus on negotiating new contracts for the district’s teaching assistants and other workers like secretaries, aides and bus drivers.

On teachers wearing their union shirts in classrooms, Degliomini said that would continue. The practice of union members wearing HTA shirts twice a week at school started in 2017 during state talks about a possible constitutional convention and not because of the contract expiration in 2018, Degliomini said.

“We don’t see anything wrong with our blue shirts. They’re a sense of pride for us,” she said. “We do have our TA’s that are working under an expired contract and we’re a unit of over 740 members so we work in unison and we support each other no matter what.”

Degliomini said that the faculty never wore shirts with negative slogans and only wore pins saying, “Always forward. Never back.”

She said that the teachers performed their jobs to the best of their abilities under the expired contract.

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