Little, if any movement has been made in negotiations between the Kings Park School District and the Kings Park Classroom Teachers Association since their contract expired last June, which has sent the process into a stage known as fact-finding.
“The negotiation process has different steps,” said Ralph Cartisano, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Instruction and Personnel for the district. “When both sides are working through negotiaions, they declare an impasse on points where they cannot necessarily agree.”
Since mediation has been unsuccessful, Cartisano, who has been present at negotiations, says the next phase is called fact-finding, where another person is assigned to work with both parties.
Negotiations between the union and the district are not public. With fact-finding, that changes- a report from the process is made public upon completion.
“Fact finding is a non-binding process,” said Jim Pappas, president of the Kings Park Classroom Teachers Association. "It is another tool to try to get us together to come to an agreement. The fact finding report will be public, that is the difference. A person will come in and talk to both sides and take a look at neighboring districts to see what they are doing and see if one side should budge, but again it is non-binding," he said.
There are 22 people on the KPCTA's negotiating committee, which Pappas said is about 10 percent of the teaching staff.
According to Pappas, the process will take a few months and says he isn’t sure that the report will be finished by the end of the current school year.
Members of the KPCTA continue to receive the benefits and salary stipulated in the expired contract until a new compromise is reached.
“When you don’t have a contract in place, all the benefits of the old contract remain,” said Cartisano.
Since negotiations are not public, it isn’t certain what either side is asking for. Back in August of 2011, the which District Superintendent, Susan Agruso said could have saved the district $450,000.
The 2011-12 budget cuts resulted in a loss of, among other things, 23.5 teaching positions. Latest budget projections presented at last Thursday’s board of education meeting indicated another seven teaching positions may be eliminated in this budget season. The second draft of the budget showed an $80,410,526 budget, which is a budget-to-budget increase of 1.64 percent and would present a tax levy of approximately 2.48 percent.
While Pappas said he remains hopeful, he says the two sides are not close to reaching a compromise.
“Negotiations are really a compromise,” said Pappas. “Even if we compromise more, it doesn’t mean the district would approve it. We’re not that close. We are still kind of far apart, but it’s been amicable,” he said.