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Mount Pleasant Schools' Contract Negotiations Explained to Parents

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – Susan Guiney, Superintendent of the Mount Pleasant Central School District, said she feels it is important to keep the residents and parents of students within the district informed about the process of contract negotiations.

“We want things to be as crystal clear as possible about everything that goes on with the process of negotiations and forming of a new contract for our teachers, administrators and other workers,” Guiney said.

Guiney held a coffee and questions session Monday night in the Westlake High School library for parents to learn more about the process.  In June of 2012, four out of the five collective bargaining units within the district are set to expire. Those include administrators, teachers, clerical workers and custodial staff.

Although Guiney and the board of education put together the event, the night was mostly lead by Gus Mountanos, the board’s attorney and counsel.  Mountanos discussed the aspects of negotiating new contracts, which he described as a difficult one.

“It’s not an easy topic,” Mountanos said.  “Especially in these financial times it’s very difficult for union leaders to go to their people and tell them that they may have to take a lesser deal than what they have now.”

Mountanos gave those in attendance information on the current incremental salary structure schedule in the district, which moves vertically based on years employed in the district and horizontally based upon graduate credits obtained.  Mountanos noted that in the State of New York, there cannot be a binding agreement that is imposed upon either party.

Mountanos, who also represents other school districts in the area, such as Harrison and Bronxville, showed examples of recent settlements and said how important it is to use those as guidance.

“There are districts out there that have come up with some creative ways to make an agreement and those should be looked at,” Mountanos said.  “With things like pension and health insurance increases, loss in state aid and the property tax cap, it’s very difficult for schools.”

This was the third coffee and questions session held by Guiney and the board. The first two discussed the property tax cap and the new APPR system.

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