PORT CHESTER, N.Y. - The Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District and the Port Chester Teachers Association remain mired in heated contractual disputes while 13.5 reading teacher positions hang in the balance.
Although both parties agreed that contract negotiations would remain confidential, PCTA President Linda O'Connor told The Daily Port Chester that the district has denied a proposal from the union that would reinstate the reading teachers and save the district more than $2.2 million over the next two years. Port Chester Superintendent Edward Kliszus denied O'Connor's allegations and would not comment further on the negotiations.
"We are disappointed that the PCTA has chosen to use the boards recent offerings made in good faith as the means to dishonor the confidentiality agreement," Kliszus said.
Kliszus said that since the PCTA declared negotiations at an impasse in January , the Board has put forth multiple proposals "in an attempt to move negotiations forward." At the Board's April 20 meeting where the 2012-13 budget was adopted , members of the Board said that negotiations had resumed.
O'Connor said included in the proposal the district allegedly turned down was the switch to one single insurance provider, the State-wide Schools Cooperative Health Plan and salary concessions. The alleged deal appears to be similar to the agreements the district struck with the Administrators and Clerical unions in March.
Kliszus said that a switch to SWSCHP would save the district almost $1 million, enough to restore all 13.5 reading positions through 2013 and beyond. Kliszus said he was optimistic about the first mediation session to take place on May 31.
"My philosophy is we all share the same problem. I'm hopeful the mediator will be a problem solver," Kliszus said. "I think the capability is there, we just have to create the environment to get it done."
Despite the tension and with the budget vote less than a week away, O'Connor urged members of the public to support the board's adopted budget.
"The Port Chester teachers strongly urge the community members to vote for the school budget, for the good of the remaining programming and the good of our children," O'Connor said.
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