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Negotiations Go Smoothly For Southampton Teachers As Board Awards New Contract

Originally Posted: July 01, 2008

Southampton - The Southampton Board of Education voted unanimously in favor or a new two-year contract with the Southampton Teachers Association at a public meeting held on June 25. The new agreement will extend from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2010. The teachers also ratified the contract by a vote of 170 to four on June 24.

Negotiated in six sessions by a three-person district team led by Dr. J. Richard Boyes, Superintendent of Schools, and a four-person teacher team led by Patty Lissenden, president of the Southampton Teachers Association, the contract process went smoothly. Both parties decided to work without outside professional negotiators in a more informal, less adversarial manner according to school officials, and this approach offered an opportunity to save time and legal expense.

"When I met Patty last summer, I knew right away that we could trust each other and work well together without a lot of formality," Dr. Boyes commented. "I like to listen to and problem-solve with reasonable people. Patty indicated that she and the teacher leadership team would prefer this informal, cooperative approach as well."

Lissenden reports the Southampton Teachers Association "is pleased with the negotiation process and product. We feel both sides addressed the needs of the school community and ended with a fair outcome. To have a contract in place on time is a major accomplishment. The overwhelming support from our members significantly shows positive feedback."

"We want to attract and retain the best teachers by offering competitive salaries and benefits along with a positive working environment based on mutual respect," Boyes added. "We have to keep the interests of taxpayers in mind as well. Our new contract recognizes these issues. Neither side achieved everything it wanted, but both sides achieved what they needed."

The new contract provides for a 3.5 percent increase in salaries each of the two years. Other terms reflect changes in language dealing with length of the school year, use of sick, personal, and child care leaves, and earlier notification deadlines for retirement eligibility or other end of service benefits.

Don King, president of the Board of Education and participant in the negotiations sessions, commented on the proceedings. "All parties came to the table willing to work together for the good of the students, the district, and our community," King said. "It is a fair and equitable contract. Settling in a timely fashion assures we will open next September without distractions and able to devote all of our attention to the students and their needs."

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