Resident and former teacher Frances La Duca drew applause from union members several times during the Monday Northport-East Northport Board of Ed meeting when she expressed frustration with what she perceives to be the district’s lack of long-term planning and .
In a Dec. 6 email to the Board, La Duca bemoaned the "lack of long range planning to implement the Superintendent's vision; not listening to the needs of classroom teachers in the reading program; problematic implementation of an eighth grade science course without proper preparation in previous grades; announcing elimination of ninth grade honors English without prior warning; forcing all eleventh grade students into the IB program; and purchasing laptops for the staff that cannot be used because the infrastructure was not in place prior to purchase."
"...The most fatal lack of communications is illustrated by the fact that the Central Office and the Board were unaware of the low morale and discontent of the teaching staff until a letter with ," she wrote.
La Duca asked the Board on Monday how many negotiations meetings had taken place since May, and if any Board members had attended. Superintendent Marylou McDermott confirmed that the last meeting was on Dec. 21 and that another meeting would take place on Tuesday.
Union President Antoinette Blanck confirmed that only four meetings have taken place in the past eight months: one in July, one in August, and two in December. Other meetings that had been planned were cancelled.
Board President Stephen Waldenburg said Board involvement doesn’t usually occur until a settlement is near, but said he often gets calls during the meeting. ”I categorically deny the allegation that the Board is clueless in negotiations,” he said.
When McDermott pointed out that no teachers have been laid off, Blanck reminded her that the elementary school health program has been disbanded, and that some positions in music electives have also been eliminated. La Duca added that only one librarian position has been filled after two high school librarians retired.
McDermott acknowledged that some tough decisions were made with regard to programs, and that some positions would be lost due to attrition.