Concerns about the labor contract for Wantagh Public Schools’ custodial staff took center stage at the March 14 board of education meeting.
The custodial staff has been without a labor contract since June 2011, according to Civil Service Employees Association labor relations specialist Stephanie Teff.
“You don’t get the fact that they deserve a contract, and they deserve it right now,” Teff told the board. “You would want to be treated the same way in your own job.”
The district previously proposed a contract that offered a 1 percent salary increase and a rise in health insurance contributions from 15 percent to 20 percent of the cost of premium.
“These people are going to be taking from the salary they have now to give back to you in order to pay their share of health insurance and keep their job,” Teff stated. “I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I do hold you entirely responsible for getting these people a contract and treating them fairly.”
Cyndy Ambrosio, a member of the Mandalay Elementary School PTA, supported Teff’s sentiments. Addressing the board, she said, “I’m representing the whole entire Mandalay community by asking you to please look at the fundamental staff that we have: the custodians. The ones that you bragged about when I was part of the budget advisory committee, telling us how talented these gentlemen and these women are. If you called on them 24/7, they would be there for you. So please have the utmost respect for them and for our community and settle this contract as soon as possible.”
Wantagh Board of Education President Michael Cucci responded, “We do hear you. We appreciate your comments, and we promise to be working hard to settle this.”
Other issues brought up by the public during the school board meeting included:
- Tony Walker, co-president of Wantagh SEPTA, said that the district needs to do a better job teaching students acceptance and understanding, especially when it comes to the treatment of special needs children. Acting Superintendent Maureen Goldberg agreed that the district needs to be more proactive when it comes to addressing bullying. She also urged parents to bring any situations they are aware of to the attention of a school staff member.
- Kera McLoughlin thanked the board for their efforts toward including full-day Kindergarten classes in the budget, and asked them to keep it going in the future.
- Ralph Spagnolo of the Wantagh Foundation for Educational Excellence said that Teen Nights are running smoothly, except that they could use more parent volunteers to chaperone.