Press-Republican

Local News

September 20, 2013

City School Board denies FOIL request

Members vote 6-2 in favor of keeping letter regarding health insurance from DA private

(Continued)

“I can only assume that the letter reconfirms that position, so I’m asking, why the secrecy?”

AT LEAST EQUIVALENT

According to City School Superintendent James “Jake” Short, the contracts for both the Plattsburgh Teachers’ Association and Plattsburgh Civil Service Employees Association state that the district’s health-insurance plan must be at least the equivalent of the Blue-Cross/Blue Shield Statewide Plan.

Chmura noted he was aware the unions could grieve a unilateral change, leading to litigation, something Wachtmeister had pointed out at the previous session.

The superintendent, too, told the Press-Republican last month that when the issue was discussed publicly in the spring, a representative from the Teachers’ Association indicated the group would argue the equivalency of Plan B to the Statewide Plan if a unilateral switch were to be made.

‘THAT’S LITIGATION’

Maybe the unions would win, Chmura said, or maybe they wouldn’t, “but the public will definitely know where the teachers stand in regard to their sense of community and concern for preservation of the public school system, our district. 

“My belief is that the issue can be resolved in the interests of the taxpayers and that unions will concede it is time to contribute.”

He also noted how, at the previous meeting, Wachtmeister indicted he was weary of causing litigation with unions, yet challenged the public to bring Article 78 proceedings against the district in an effort to force a unilateral switch to be made.

“That’s litigation,” Chmura said.

‘VOICE IN THE WIND’

Before the vote at last week’s session, Marino stated he stood by his position to grant the FOIL request, adding that Girvin’s opinion on the matter had been stated during public sessions in March and April, as is documented in the minutes of those meetings.

“Now that it’s in the form of a letter, I still don’t understand, nor do I support, that all of a sudden it’s attorney/client privilege,” he said. “If it was attorney/client privilege, it shouldn’t have been reported at an open meeting in March.

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