Riverhead School District

New leadership elected to Riverhead teachers union

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead Central Faculty Association’s newest president, Lisa Goulding, at the union’s downtown office on Roanoke Avenue with middle school social studies teacher Chris Butterfield (left) and Roanoke Elementary School third-grade teacher Gary Karlson, who were elected co-vice presidents in May.

Riverhead High School social studies teacher Lisa Goulding is very familiar with the Riverhead Central Faculty Association’s downtown office on Roanoke Avenue. She’s become even cozier there since settling into her new desk for the first time last Monday.

After serving for six years as vice president of the district’s teachers union, Ms. Goulding, 51, was elected its newest leader in May.

The school district hired her right out of college 26 years ago and she’s worked in Riverhead ever since. The Shirley parent has a daughter in high school and a son in college.

Ms. Goulding replaces former union president and physical education teacher Barbara Barosa, who retired last month after nearly two decades as RCFA leader. The union also elected Middle School social studies teacher Chris Butterfield and Roanoke Elementary School third-grade teacher Gary Karlson as its vice presidents.

The trio is expected to take turns attending school board meetings, Ms. Goulding said.

“I am really excited to lead the RCFA,” she said. “I am fortunate to be able to do this, working side-by-side with Chris and Gary, who both have a lot to offer.”

As for addressing concerns inside the classroom, Ms. Goulding said she’s up to the challenge of working with the administration to come up with ways to help the district’s current 375 teachers handle rising class sizes. She said the district has shed about 70 positions since the economic downturn during the 2008-09 school year, all as student enrollment has increased to more than 5,000 students.

Another task she’s working on is helping to negotiate a new teachers contract to replace the one that expired June 30, 2012. Although teachers have been working without a contract for the past year, she said the matter hasn’t yet been referred to the state’s Public Employment Relations Board, or PERB, because she believes both parties are confident they’ll be able to strike a deal.

We recently sat down with Ms. Goulding at her office. The following was excerpted from our conversation:

Q: Why did you want to become union president?

A: I knew Barbara was retiring and, as vice president, I was working closely with her and learning the ropes of the position. We’ve got great teachers and I’m looking forward to representing them. It’s a great opportunity to work with the district’s administration to develop something that works for the kids and teachers. We’ve done a lot of work with the APPR [Annual Professional Performance Review] and teacher evaluation system. One of our goals is to find out what our teachers’ specific needs are and encourage them to become more involved with the RCFA.

Q: What are your other goals as union president?

A: Education faces so many challenges today in New York and throughout the country, especially testing. The RCFA plans to help teachers by providing them with the tools they need to adapt to the state Education Department’s changes in curriculum. We will be working with the district to ensure that children continue to receive a great education and continue to lobby for our fair share of state aid.

Q: What are your thoughts about the state Common Core Standards Initiative?

A: I think there are very few people who would argue that the overall goals of the Common Core standards are bad. Who wouldn’t advocate that high school graduates should be college and career ready? The problem lies with the implementation of the Common Core standards in New York. Districts throughout the state were given a very limited time in which to implement the Common Core standards. Teachers have been given very limited professional development on Common Core instruction, and yet students were given assessments based on the Common Core. Not only is the problem with teacher evaluation being based on the Common Core, the hours and hours of testing is very unfair to kids. I’m not sure who was more frustrated — students, teachers, parents or administrators. We want to focus on more Common Core professional development for our teachers.