Contract negotiations between New Paltz United Teachers (NPUT) and the New Paltz Central School Board of Education (BOE) have reached an impasse.
Officers from NPUT “have not come to a place where members feel comfortable ratifying the proposed contract,” said NPUT President and second grade teacher at Duzine Elementary School Arielle Chiger. This is the second school year New Paltz teachers have worked without a contract.
The contract negotiations come at a time of financial difficulty for the New Paltz Central School District. An article published on April 16. in The Little Rebellion reported a reduction in state aid to school districts across New York. This was done in order to “fill the state’s $10 billion budget deficit.” Called the Gap Elimination Adjustment, New Paltz Central School District lost $1.4 million in funding cuts during the 2014-2015 school year.
During the public comment of the Nov. 4 New Paltz BOE meeting, four members of NPUT asked the BOE and superintendent Maria Rice for a “fair and reasonable” contract, The New Paltz Times reports.
Members of NPUT emphasized the roles and responsibilities they perform outside of their contractual duties. “In spite of being well into our second year without a contract we continue to provide extraordinary instruction and support to our students in a way that shows how much we believe in the power of dedication to our school community and in our professional responsibility to our students,” Chiger said.
New Paltz teachers participate in events such as the Duzine Music and Art Show, ELL Family Night, Scarecrow Festival planning and the Earth Day Festival.
Negotiations of this nature are generally confidential. According to Chiger, NPUT made their request of the BOE during public comment in order make the process transparent and in the “public eye.” New Paltz taxpayers are responsible for teachers’ salaries, and are connected to the contract by this responsibility.
Chiger calls the two years teachers worked without a contract “unacceptable,” and added, “working without a contract makes us vulnerable.” The contract includes salaries, benefits, workdays teaching requirements and “entitles [teachers] to due process.”
To resolve the impasse, outside mediators will be brought into the negotiation during a mediation session. NPUT will enter a fact-finding process during which members will establish non-negotiable items.