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
Northport, New York 11768
Re: Platform of United Taxpayers of Northport - East Northport
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
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.
United Taxpayers of Northport-East Northport
United Taxpayers of Northport East Northport
January 2, 2011
Table of Contents
United Teachers of Northport Contract Considerations: 3
Board of Education – Formation of Committees -
Investigate, research and assist BOE in their decision 6
Recommendations for Fiscal Responsibilities: 9
Recommendations for Educational Excellence and Curriculum
Recommendations for Contract Considerations Requiring State
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
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);
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
Encourage volunteerism to save costs (as utilized in top city schools).
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
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).
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
Other Post-Retirement Benefits
For your reference, according to footnote that appears on page 40 of the 6/30/2010
“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
Increase vesting period from 5 to 10 years.
Increase overall employee contribution rate for all active employees.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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