When Jack Perna began working in the Montauk School District, the price of gas was around 39 cents per gallon and a slice of pizza cost about 35 cents. The year was 1973.
Mr. Perna was a fourth-grade teacher at the time, and has since risen to the role of district superintendent and principal. He received a pay raise and one-year contract extension, through June of 2020, from the Montauk School Board during its annual organization meeting on July 9. The 2019-20 school year marks his 24th at the helm of the district.
“I can’t see myself being effective anywhere else because I’m a member of the community for so long, and I know the families,” Mr. Perna said this week. “Once I’m done, I’m done. I’m an old man — I’m going to be 69. Right now I still think I’m effective, and I enjoy what I do.”
Mr. Perna received a $3,017 raise, or about 1.6 percent, up to $186,500. He is one of two local superintendents who received a pay increase from their respective school boards in July, school district records show.
Robert Hauser, the Bridgehampton School District superintendent, received a $3,700 raise, or 2 percent, which brings his salary to $188,700. He previously received a prorated pay increase in February 2019. He is in his first full school year as superintendent, having begun in February of 2018 and previously serving as an assistant superintendent. Mr. Hauser’s contract runs through June 2021.
At its July 9 meeting, the Montauk School Board also approved a new three-year contract for the district’s teachers. School officials said this round of negotiations was night-and-day different from the last time the Montauk Teachers Association contract had to be negotiated. Last time around, in 2016, teachers showed up to school board meetings wearing black T-shirts, and the school board nixed public comment sessions when it deemed that dialogue about the contract was taking too negative a tone. This time, none of that came to pass.
Mr. Perna explained that not only did the union’s leadership change, but the school district also has a new attorney, and there was a new representative from New York State United Teachers in the mix as well.
“It was much, much different. Much better,” he said. The new contract “is going to benefit everybody. . . . It was a compromise all the way around.”
Jennifer Walker, president of the Montauk Teachers Association, agreed. “It was a great negotiation process,” she said. “Everyone seemed to be working toward the best for everyone involved.”
According to the contract, Montauk teachers will receive half-percent raises this year and the following two years. Pay for those who lead extracurricular activities will increase as well, and the new contract adds new incremental increases, known as “steps,” for teachers who have been in the district for many years. Teachers will also begin contributing more toward the cost of their health insurance.
Representatives of the Montauk and Bridgehampton School Boards could not be reached for comment this week.