Harlem Negotiations March On

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

The teachers strike in the Harlem school district continues and school is canceled once again Thursday. Teachers picketed outside the Harlem administration building Wednesday afternoon, as contract negotiations continued.
Teachers complaints are that they are paid less than any surrounding district, which administration calls a product of the district's size, and that newer teachers receive smaller raises per year than those hired before 2004.
Many Harlem students are getting impatient with the delay in starting classes. Now some are following their teachers' example.
Kids hit the street near Maple Elementary asking to go back to school. Both teachers and administrators say they are prepared to trade contract proposals into the night, to get a deal done and have kids in class by Friday.
Superintendent Pat Deluca says they talked health insurance Wednesday, with a consultant present. Deluca says if the strike is not over by September 1st, teachers will have to start paying their own insurance premiums. That's about $500 a month for a single employee, increasing with dependents. That has many teachers worried, but Deluca hopes it won't come to that.
"I would not meet if I didn't think we could settle tonight and I will not meet unless I think we can settle at another session," says Deluca.
"This is a pretty urgent situation. The kids belong in school, the teachers to a person want to be in school. The community deserves and expects to have their children in school," adds Harlem teacher Kevin Jensen.
Support staff will not have to pay their insurance premiums, because they have already reached a contract deal. They still cannot go back to work until teachers do. A federal mediator was present at Wednesday's talks.
As of 11:00 Wednesday night, an agreement had not been reached. The administration's latest offer was to increase teachers' pay by an average of 6%. They're also offering 100% individual employee coverage through the length of the contract. Next year dependent coverage insurance premiums would remain the same. For 08-09, the board would pay increased costs up to 10% from the year before. Costs beyond that would be shared equally between employees and the board.
If negotiators reach an agreement sometime Wednesday night or early morning, students could be back in school by Friday.

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  • by JS Location: MP on Aug 23, 2007 at 08:52 AM
    I would like to see Cindy Ralston as the new Superintendent of the Harlem School District.
  • by charlotte Location: machesney park on Aug 23, 2007 at 06:01 AM
    everyone talks about how much the teachers make, how about how much the administrators make and how many do they have?
  • by Sheila Location: Machesney park on Aug 22, 2007 at 10:14 PM
    2 of the lil strikers you see here are my girls...I have to say I'm very proud of them for standing up for school...while most kids are happy not to be there my kids are bored sitting at home and would rather be sitting behind their desks learning new things...I have 2 kids at Maple and this strike affects them the hardest since they have already gotten into a routine...we've had homework and field trips already...My oldest is excited to be starting at Machesney elementary this year in the fine arts academy and was crushed that she gets to start off yet another school year with a strike...With yet another day off of school tomorrow you will find my kids on another corner some place and when you do PLEASE HONK FOR SCHOOL
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