Negotiations breakdown could mean lost aid in SWR

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | School board president William McGrath (right) said the district could lose nearly half a million dollars in state aid this year because of a union dispute.

The Shoreham-Wading River school district is poised to lose nearly half a million dollars in state aid for the current school year after negotiations over a state-required teacher performance review plan with the administrators union have stalled, school board officials revealed at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Board president William McGrath said state education commissioner John King notified the district on Dec. 28 that unless the performance review plan for teachers and administrators — called an APPR — is approved by Jan. 17, the schools would lose out on state aid increases for the 2012-13 school year totaling $457,000.

Mr. McGrath said contract negotiations with the nine members of the administrators union were holding up the APPR plan’s acceptance.

“The district has continued attempts to bargain as to the APPR as required by law,” Mr. McGrath said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Our efforts in this regard have been thwarted by the administrators association, which has refused to conclude such bargaining without a settlement of a contract negotiation where the association’s demands regarding benefit changes and salary increases have been rejected by the board.”

The cut in state aid would represent roughly 5 percent of the district’s $8.3 million in total state aid for the 2012-13 school year.

If that state aid is lost, the district would have to cover the funds this year, Mr. McGrath added. The cut in state aid would also have an effect on next year’s budget, as a rollover budget would have to change to reflect the decreased state aid total, school officials said.

The district originally submitted the APPR plan on July 1, with only the signatures of the board and the head of the teachers union, after a general counsel for the state education department informed the district it could still have its plan reviewed without signatures from all the bargaining units.

On Dec. 28, Mr. King reversed that policy, stating all APPR plans across the state that would be reviewed needed to have all the proper signatures, Mr. McGrath said.

Mr. McGrath said the board will “continue to act in good faith” and praised the teachers union for its cooperation, but said no deal has been made with the administrators union as of Tuesday.

Stephen Donohue, president of the administrators union and principal of Wading River Elementary School, was unable to be reached for comment first thing Wednesday morning.

School officials said they are unsure what will happen if they miss the Jan. 17 cutoff date. There is no guarantee that state aid lost after that date will be returned should the district and the administrators union later reach an agreement.

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