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No surprise , SLCSD!
January 9, 2009 - John Stack
Today, the ADE announced that the Saranac Lake Central School may have to be looking at layoffs. Who did this surprise? Seemingly, this as a 'shock' to the school board. Remember in November when the SL teachers got their contract ratified? 4 percent raises and still very little for their insurance. Superintendent Goldman said "Even though it appears to some to be insufficient, frequently the negotiations are guided by the contracts that have been negotiated in comparable school districts," . Thing is, this contract was in the middle of the worst economic times I've seen in my lifetime! I work for the State, and I have a contract that runs from 2007 thru 2011. The increases are 3,3,3 and 4 percnt. This was in an economic climate significantly different than the one when the teacher's contract was ratified.
Also, at the time of the signing, Joan Schaefer (who voted NAY)wondered about losing programs like art and music. Goldman ASSURED her that 'wouldn't happen' in Saranac Lake. He explained they had all ready built into the budget a decrease in state funds. Obviously he hadn't figured quite good enough. But even so, with the budget going up by probably at least 4 % (just for salaries), and knowing there would be a cut in school funding from the State, what was the plan when the budget came in front of the voters? a 10 % increase, and blame it all on the State? now, it looks like maybe a dozen faculty could be let go. How many would have been saved if the increases were more in line with the reality of our economic situation? If the teachers just paid what most other people pay (20%?) we'd probably see a decrease in our levy! How about if they took just 2 percent rather than 3? That would have saved staff. As a state worker, I'm expecting a 'lag'. This means I'll lose a week of pay this year, but i will get it back - in 18 years when I retire! I expect the state to pressure the union to open our contract, and I expect more givebacks by us. The giveback for the teachers was increasing health costs from $250 to $750 - a big $500 jump! (its of course more than covered by the average salary increase of $2000). Meanwhile, if insurance rates go up for the school district, they eat it all. Its easy to see a 5% increase in health insurance costs - this is another $700 plus dollars per year per teacher us taxpayers have to foot the bill for!
I don't believe the teachers were greedy. I think they got what they could. I think their union leadership let them down. Now, the remaining teachers will have to live with their coworkers being laid off, more students in a class, less materials for class and some programs being dropped. I also know there are some great teachers, and my kids have had a few here. i want them to stay here and graduate here. Some of the teachers are worht their weight in gold, Like Gail Meyer and Gary Baldwin or Lynda Peer. but, we can't afford that. We can afford a good education with amply, not overpaid, teachers.
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