Pine Valley superintendent calls demonstration ‘puzzling’

SOUTH DAYTON — Following Wednesday afternoon’s picketing outside the Pine Valley Central School by a number of teachers, Superintendent Scott Payne says the union and district are meeting with a state mediator in an effort to come to an agreement.

Here is the statement he released this afternoon:

“I am disappointed with the Pine Valley Teacher’s Association (PVTA) decision to engage in a demonstration in conjunction with Wednesday night’s student oriented activity. Open House is entirely dedicated to assisting students and parents in establishing positive relationships for the school year. It’s about creating a feedback loop and developing rapport. The choice to demonstrate this District activity is puzzling.

“This is particularly unsatisfactory in light of the fact that the PVTA’s Association and the District just had a meeting last week with a State Mediator. The parties are making progress through that formal process. The timing of the PVTA’s action is disappointing and curious. However, it is important to note that the District is committed to the mediation process and knows that it is the appropriate forum to meet an agreement that is fair to teachers, as well as our tax-payers and community.

“It is sad that this action focuses us on the wrong question. We need to really be asking ourselves how we can improve our academic achievement, which is not where we want it to be. We need to be asking how we are going to provide innovative instructional strategies that engage our students in learning activities that will improve achievement. We need to be asking how we can develop a contract that focuses on investing in our teacher’s professional development so that we can transform teaching and create growth in our academics. And we need to consider the long-term financial health of a small district that has lost 170 students since the 2009-10 school year.

“What is distressing is that PVTA continues to misrepresent the district’s current compensation proposal which misleads the public and the PVTA membership. The district compensation proposal is tens of thousands of dollars greater than the numbers incorrectly referenced by the PVTA. In the district’s view, the current compensation proposal represents a settlement that is fair to teachers and fair to taxpayers. More importantly, it puts the district in a position to positively impact student achievement, which is an investment that should be shared by all sides.

“We have done everything we can to get the PVTA to the table and keep the conversation going. We stand ready and willing to meet with the PVTA at any time and place as a part of the formal mediation process, or outside of that if it’s productive. There simply cannot be resolution if we can’t meet to discuss the issues that are on the table. Staged events, such as Wednesday’s demonstration may tend to compromise the spirit of the process. But moving forward, we remain hopeful of reaching successful resolution to the contract issues.”