Platform

Document Sample
Platform Powered By Docstoc
					                    United Taxpayers of Northport-East Northport
                                    P.O. Box 292
                            Northport, New York 11768
                                   January 2, 2011


Board of Education
Northport East Northport Union Free School District
Brosnan Building
Laurel Road
Northport, New York 11768

Re:    Platform of United Taxpayers of Northport - East Northport

Honorable Trustees:

Attached is a copy of our Platform. We ask that you give this document your kind
attention and consider the recommendations in the spirit in which they are offered. In
keeping with our mission statement we seek to assist the district and the community in
offering the highest quality education available to our students at a cost that is affordable
to our adult residents.

Our membership, which includes several former Board of Education Trustees, CPA’s,
lawyers, professionals and devoted parents, have been represented at every Board of
Education meeting for the last five years. We have followed the agenda’s closely. We
hope that you will make use of the hundreds of hours of research that has gone into our
recommendations herein and would be happy to provide backup documentation should
your find it helpful.

As you are aware, less and less of our budget funds are available for anything other than
salaries and benefits. For fiscal 2010, the District under spent the budget by
approximately $10 million, for fiscal 2009, the District under spent the budget by
approximately $6 million. In years prior to that, the District under spent the budget by
approximately $4 million. None of those amounts were used to enhance academic
programs, but rather either returned to taxpayers or as reserves for employee-related
expenditures.

Again, thank you for your kind attention to these very important issues and for your
service on the Board. We offer this information as suggestions for the BOE to consider
or even act on some of these items. You are our decision makers at a time of
unprecedented financial pressure and we are here to help you make the most informed
decision that not only benefits the taxpayers of this District, but also continues to provide
a quality education for the students.

                               Sincerely,
                               United Taxpayers of Northport-East Northport

                                                                                            1
United Taxpayers of Northport East Northport


                 Platform


              January 2, 2011




                                               2
                          UTN-EN Platform
                          Table of Contents


                                                              Beginning
                                 Page

United Teachers of Northport Contract Considerations:             3

Board of Education – Formation of Committees -
     Investigate, research and assist BOE in their decision       6
     making responsibilities:

Recommendations for Fiscal Responsibilities:                      9


Recommendations for Educational Excellence and Curriculum
     Objectives                                                   10


Recommendations for Contract Considerations Requiring State
     adoption:                                                    11




                                                                       3
UTN Contract Considerations:

         Analyze/evaluate/reduce column transfer movement. (It is unrealistic to
          receive a 3-4% bump in salary for every 15 credit hours of course work).
         Reduction in the number of column adjustments.
         Negotiate performance based increases.
         Incremental (step) raises should be withheld for under-performing teachers
          until performance improves or eliminated totally.
         Negotiate flat dollar amount for healthcare contributions instead of
          percentage, for all bargaining units.
         Eliminate/Reduce rebates to employees who waive health benefits
          (especially in the case where both spouses work for the district).
         UTN President’s salary to be paid exclusively by UTN members, not the
          district.
         Reduce stipend amounts for clubs and events and monitor (other district
          pay $500.00 to cover a club, one day a week for entire school year.
          (Stipends contribute to Final Average Salary and District should be aware
          of who is getting the stipends and if new teachers and being refused club
          stipends in lieu of teachers closer to retirement, should be a fair playing
          field). See next for clarification of calculable income:
                 (Teacher pension calculation is based on years of service, age at retirement and 3
                 consecutive years of the highest annual earnings:

                 The Three-Year FAS is available to all tiers and can include payments for:

                         Full-time teaching services (e.g., regular compensation);
                         Coaching;
                         Tutoring;
                         Summer school;
                         Chaperoning;
                         Workshops;
                         Driver education;
                         Supervision of traditional after-school clubs; and,
                         Teaching or administration of educational after-school programs. )


         Teacher total compensation for comparison purposes must include the
          value of benefit costs, and in particular the trajectory of those costs. (The
          Wall Street Journal estimates that the average public employee is
          equivalent to having $1 million in a 401K plan. Analysis based on
          average public employee, not teacher).

         Require department chairpersons to teach at least 1-2 courses per
          semester.

         Encourage volunteerism to save costs (as utilized in top city schools).


                                                                                                      4
              Negotiate building assignments i.e., study hall, hall duty for no
               compensation during non-teaching period.
              Negotiate that all teachers much cover 5 classes a year (from their non-
               teaching periods) to reduce hiring of substitutes (common in other
               districts).
              Negotiate all contracts with LIPA contingency alternative.
              (During all negotiations when analyzing salary and benefits there needs to
               be an emphasis placed on making comparisons to the benefits and pension
               of the average taxpayers (not the teachers in other districts).


Compensated Absences:

              Adopt a use it or lose it policy at least for sick time. Eliminated payment
               of accumulated sick time. Right now, a District employee is entitled to
               payment for accumulated vacation and sick leave, subject to certain
               limitations either upon termination or retirement.
              Effectively use employee funded short-term disability for extended
               (beyond 3 business days) sick leave.
              Require employees to take at least one week of vacation annually. (This is
               good for internal control procedures and minimizes the accumulated
               vacation pay at the highest salary rates).
              Require employees to retire with the District to receive benefits for
               compensated absences

Other Post-Retirement Benefits

For your reference, according to footnote that appears on page 40 of the 6/30/2010
Annual Report:
        “The District contributes between 35% and 85% toward the cost of the insurance
premiums. The District also reimburses eligible retirees and their spouse 100% of
Medicare Part B premiums. The benefits provided to employees upon retirement are
based upon provisions in various contracts that the District has in place with different
classifications of employees. All employees are eligible once they have attained the age
of 55 and have at least 5 years of service with the District. Upon death of a retiree, the
District will only continue the Medicare Part B reimbursement for the surviving spouse.”

      Change eligible age from 55 to 62.
      Employee MUST RETIRE with District to receive benefits.
      Tie retirement age to level of benefits. Retire early, contribute more for medical
       benefits.
      Increase vesting period from 5 to 10 years.
      Increase overall employee contribution rate for all active employees.




                                                                                            5
Other:

            Revamp hiring practices, to reduce accusations of cronyism. More
             evaluations prior to hiring and attract top teachers with high compensation
             linked to performance.
            Hire aids based on need not ratio of employees to students (currently 1 to
             6).




                                                                                       6
Board of Education:


Formation of Committees to assist BOE in their decision-making.


          Allow for the formation of committees made up of community
           members and one Board member for the following areas, (the
           committee mission synopsis has been copied, in part, from the Elwood
           Union Free School District website as we believe their example of
           utilizing committees could be helpful to our District, the community and
           the students.)

          Budget & Finance Committee: To provide comprehensive analysis of
           all programs and accurate projections of the true cost associated with
           implementing the educational objectives of the District. This committee
           could also aid in the development of budgets that consider the LIPA
           reassessment and possible consolidation or mergers with surrounding
           districts.

          Contract Negotiations: This committee will analyze contracts, review
           contracts of surrounding districts and other districts as provided by New
           York State School Board Association, and make recommendations to the
           Board of Education for consideration.

          Curriculum: The committee will be charged with making
           recommendations to the Board of Education regarding a wide range of
           topics regarding K-12 curriculum and instruction. In addition to
           community residents, members of the committee will include district
           administrators and any other individuals the committee believes can assist.

          Political Initiatives & Relations: This subcommittee will be charged
           with making recommendation to the Board of Education regarding ways to
           improve two-way communication and more actively involve community
           support and involvement. The subcommittee will promote political
           initiatives to our legislators and the community that can benefit the
           District. Committee will develop resolutions for NYSSBA submission
           and advocate their positions within the community.

          Policy: This committee will be charged with making recommendation to
           the Board of Education as to the alignment of existing policies with
           current practice.



                                                                                       7
   Facilities and Finance: This committee will be charged with making
    recommendations to keep all buildings and grounds of the District in good
    repair and maintained within a high standard of safety, cleanliness, and
    functionality to foster an outstanding educational environment for our
    students and staff. The committee will work collaboratively to address all
    pertinent issues and make reports and recommendations to the Board of
    Education and Superintendent. In addition, this subcommittee will be
    charged with making recommendations to the Board of Education relative
    to the projected needs of facilities and the corresponding costs associated
    with maintaining the high quality learning environments and athletic
    facilities. (UTNEN is aware that we have a facilities and grounds
    committee and would like to know if they are charged with duties
    similar to what is proposed herein.)

   Technology: This committee will be charged with making
    recommendations to the Board of Education relative to the use of
    administrative and instructional technology. Consideration will be given
    to the present and future needs along with the corresponding costs to
    maintain state-of-the–art learning environments and efficient
    administrative applications.

   Health & Nutrition: This subcommittee will be charged with making
    recommendations to the Board of Education relative to compliance with
    NYSED requirements regarding food and nutrition in our school and
    remedying the chronic loss of revenue which is currently
    supplemented by taxpayer dollars of $157,000.00. (UTNEN is aware
    that the District has a Health & Nutrition committee but believes its
    charge needs to include having our food service become self
    sustaining. This should be high priority.)

   LIPA Tax Certiorari: Formation of committee to inform the Community
    of developments and implications of the pending lawsuit. Garner
    community and PTA support for action plan and lobbying efforts.




                                                                               8
Suggested Improvements to Better Manage Fiscal Responsibilities:



          The immediate adoption and implementation of a comprehensive
           accounting policies and procedures manual. (The CPA’s on the UTNEN
           believe this could be developed for a cost far below what the BOE has
           suggested. This is an essential for a budget of $147 million and the CPA’s
           of the UTNEN have offered to provide this valuable service for free.)

          The immediate adoption and implementation of a comprehensive Audit
           Committee Charter that will facilitate (a) the identification of internal
           accounting control weaknesses and (b) the implementation of good
           internal accounting controls. The charter should clearly state that the AC
           members are encourage to discuss issues. (In its current form the AC
           provides no substantive value.)


          Overhaul of the budget process. Eliminate the rollover budget and start
           with actual expenses. Implement Zero-based budgeting practice, as did the
           Commack district, for all expenditures, not just non-contractual
           expenditures.

          Reduce payroll.
                Consider outsourcing services such as maintenance and security
                Reduce payroll of non-instructional staff through attrition

          Provide a detailed report on goals and objectives which the budget is
           meant to support and objective measures to define success, which can be
           monitored in the future.

          Enable the budget to be presented in multiple ways so the numbers can be
           linked to the plan (e.g. if the goal is to level set the elementary schools and
           redirect investment towards elementary education, provide a budget view
           on a building by building basis.) The UTNEN is aware of the District’s
           plan to revamp the format of the present budget format, but that plan needs
           to be enhanced to include the attributes above.


          Develop contingency budget if LIPA PILOT is modified. Present both
           budgets next year.


          Adopt Long Term Plan to allow for future initiatives, i.e., full day K,
           improvements to fields and grounds.

                                                                                        9
Educational Excellence, Curriculum Objectives:


          Re-prioritize investment toward elementary and middle schools levels.

          Plan to implement Full Day K

          Prioritize class size at elementary level at the top and work down to high
           school level.

          Refocus on core educational subjects.

          Consider going back to an 8 period day. (Additional five minutes per
           period gives teachers more time with students).

          Develop foundation for higher learning by focusing on fundamentals that
           “learn how to learn”.

          The Superintendent and her staff should evaluate all programs and classes
           based on a methodology that ensures benefits to as many students as
           possible. An evaluation must include a cost/benefit analysis for every
           program based on objective measures which can be used to evaluate
           success going forward.

          District should maintain and publicize data on college admissions offers to
           track how they have trended as we have added programs or courses. Are
           we getting more admissions offers for more competitive categories of
           colleges, amount of transfer credits accepted, college completion rates,
           improvement in college admission exams? (This information would be
           helpful to parents/voters and board members as they analyze the direction
           of district programs.

          Investigate the financial and educational benefits of re-districting which
           facilitates curriculum mapping and could facilitate full day K

          The Superintendent and her staff should analyze how the impending
           College Board changes to the AP curriculum slotted for 2013 (focused-
           knowledge base, critical thinking and reasoning, essays and knowledge
           application focus) will impact existing specialized programs to avoid
           duplication of curriculum.




                                                                                        10
Contract Considerations Requiring State adoption:


Possible changes: (The UTNEN is aware that some of these suggested changes are
State controlled but urge our BOE to support legislation that would reform mandates
that tie the hands of the school district and jeopardize current and future educational
opportunities for our students. Legislative initiatives can/should be drafted yearly by
individual Districts and submitted to NYSSBA for consideration, vote and possible
adoption by NYSSBA, which lobbies Albany on our behalf). (The District pays
NYSSBA yearly for this right and should draft resolutions for consideration.)

              Increase the retirement age
             Replace defined benefits program with defined contribution program.
             Lobby (via NYSSBA) for Department of Education to relax hiring
              requirements for employees of the finance department which disqualify
              CPA’s from serving as Superintendent of Business and makes hiring of
              qualified staff in Business Office restricted to civil service list which
              provides very few individuals with finance and accounting backgrounds.
             Propose resolution to NYSSBA for a plan from the NYSTRS to help
              forecast the district’s pension obligations. (If this could be done even one
              year in advance, there could be some longer-term (2-5 year) forecasting
              and planning for this particular budget item, with a plan for how the
              reserve funds can be used to avoid the $3 million+ hit we take each year
              with increases in the costs of pension contributions).
             Pay-for-Performance merit increases




                                                                                        11

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:14
posted:7/28/2011
language:English
pages:11