Members of the marched at Northport High school Thursday holding signs reading "Fair Settlement."
UTN Oresident Antoinette Blanck said that the "unity walk" was part of the UTN's "ongoing solidarity activities wherein our members demonstrate support for one another, our union and the process through which a settlement will ultimately be reached."
Northport's teachers and the district have not been able to come to an agreement for a new teachers' contract. . An impasse was declared Dec. 23 in the negotiations process.
A negotiations update on the UTN web site stated that,"This declaration comes on the heels of the union’s rejection of the district’s recent financial proposal, a proposal which was worse than any other previously discussed. The union has presented and discussed numerous financial proposals throughout this process, several of which would have enabled the district to save millions of dollars and all of which were reasonable and fair, and formulated in recognition of the current economic climate. While the district has not specifically responded to these proposals, they have provided their own proposals."
Blanck said that salaries is not the only issue on the table.
"It is worth noting that despite some beliefs to the contrary, this negotiation is not simply about money. In fact, we have, in the process, offered "zeroes,'" she said. "What we are now seeking is to appropriately address the Annual Professional Performance Review and the process through which teachers are evaluated and encouraged to constantly and consistently update and enhance their professional expertise. In doing so, the education provided to the children of our community will not only be maintained, but improved."
The next stage in this process will involve the joint selection of a mediator.
Jean Baron, vice president of the United Taxpayers of Northport-East Northport said that, rather than being a show of unity, the rally was simply inappropriate.
"They were there for at least 15 minutes, walking up and down in front of the school on the Elwood Road side," Baron said. "Did they have to do this in front of the kids? Is this just more of their political ploy to get empathy from parents and the kids? What about a fair settlement to the taxpayers? And what about all the families in our community who have lost their homes to foreclosures? Didn't the children of those families need a a fair settlement?"
Northport Superintendent of Schools Marylou McDermott did not respond to a request for comment by post time.
At the Jan. 10 Board of Ed meeting, Board President Stephen Waldenburg said that the board has had 16 meetings with the UTN and both have agreed to declare an impasse so that a mediator can be brought in to help resolve the situation.