The Gazette received the following release from the Mamaroneck School District shortly after receiving a release on the same topic from the Mamaroneck Teachers\’ Association. A related article will appear shortly.
Mamaroneck School Board Rejects Teacher Concession Proposal, Saying it puts District’s Financial Future in Jeopardy
After thoughtful consideration, Mamaroneck Schools today said it did not accept the Mamaroneck Teachers Association (MTA) proposal to take a salary freeze for the first three months of the 2010-2011 school year in exchange for a full two-year contract extension that would result in annual teacher raises averaging more than 5 % through 2013 under essentially identical contract terms teachers have today. District projections show that these teacher concessions, if accepted, would cause the tax rate to increase more than eight percent for each of the two contract extension years.
“With contracts up for negotiation next year and the process scheduled to begin in just a few short months, we’re not looking to extend teacher contracts under the current terms,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Fried said. “Accepting this proposal would be detrimental to the future health of our district. It would place our district in financial jeopardy and undermine the tireless efforts the Board and community have put forth over the past five months to minimize the burden on taxpayers, yet keep our schools strong and reflective of the core values of our community.”
Dr. Fried adds, “We hoped they would have provided us with an offer that supported the children in the District, yet did not require the Board to extend the contract in a manner that places an undo financial burden on the community. The MTA concession proposal, resulting in an eight percent tax increase for each of the two proposed years, would result in massive teacher layoffs impacting class size, programs and quality of instruction.”
According to the MTA proposal, after thee months of a pay freeze during the first part of the 2010-11 school year, the teachers’ salary schedules would revert back to the contractual cost of living increase of 3.8% (plus the dollar increase a teacher is entitled to with “steps”, tied to teaching experience, and “lanes”, which represent levels of education) in the current contract. Then, for the two years that follow, the teachers would accept a contractual cost of living increase of 2.25% on top of the step and lane increases. (For further information on teacher compensation and benefits, which make up 79% of the budget, visit our Budget Communications section of the website — then select Frequently Asked Questions at right and Compensation and Benefits, also at right.)
“We appreciated the concessions the MTA made last year enabling us to restore 2.2 teaching positions, but are disappointed they’ve provided an offer this year with strings attached. The Board does not believe it’s in the community’s best interests to agree to a contract extension that would lead to an unacceptable tax increase in 2011-2012 and 2012-13,” said Linnet Tse, president of the Mamaroneck Board of Education, which carefully analyzed the different options the MTA presented by preparing three-year financial projections using a variety of assumptions.
Tse says the Board was hoping the teachers, in recognition of the crisis the District was facing, would have presented an option that doesn’t bind the District to another two years at an unsustainable rate. She explains that other surrounding districts have accepted contract extensions from their unions, but most of those districts had two years left on their contracts, and several districts changed the salary schedule itself as a result of the concessions. Additionally, beyond the salaries and benefits, the current teacher contract in Mamaroneck contains restrictive language that prevents the District from making operational changes that would have potential cost savings.
On January 4, 2010, the District sent a letter to the MTA requesting that it re-open its contract in light of unprecedented financial challenges. The MTA rejected the request.
“In my letter to MTA leadership, I indicated my interest in addressing particular contract provisions, several of which I believe restrict the District’s ability to maximize student learning in a cost-effective manner. The contract needs to be flexible enough for the teachers and administrators to work together to make our educational programs sustainable into the future,” Dr. Fried said.
The Superintendent’s Recommended Budget, which is expected to be adopted by the Board next Tuesday, April 20, reflects a 1.22% budget-to-budget increase and a 2.08 % tax rate increase, the lowest in memorable history and possibly ever. The District leadership and Board have listened to the community and have worked very hard over the past several months, identifying millions of dollars in cuts, in order to reduce the tax increase to one that they think the community can support. Of the 53 positions being abolished in the Superintendent’s Recommended Budget, 80% are non-teaching in nature (10.3 teacher positions are slated to be cut.)
“We cannot accept this proposal at the eleventh hour. The Board was willing and open to working with the MTA months ago when we began this process of making painful reductions in our budget. The Board made it clear to the MTA that we were willing to commit to restoring teacher positions with any meaningful concessions made,” Dr Fried said.