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Teachers' Union & District Clash on Contract Concessions

The latest iteration of the Mamaroneck School budget for 2010-2011 does not include any contract concessions from the Mamaroneck Teachers’ Association. Dueling press releases issued on Thursday, April 15 provide details, for the first time, on what the MTA has offered: teachers would forgo a portion of their contractual raise in return for a two-year extension of the contract, which expires at the end of June, 2011.

The MTA blasted the district for failing to respond to its “generous offer” while the district lambasted the proposal as “detrimental to the future health of our district.”

The MTA release, issued at around 5 pm, calls for giving back “more than 1.14% of their contracted raise for the 2010-2011 school year, in exchange for a two-year contract extension.” According to the MTA, this would save $650,000 next year, and is “comparable to agreements reached in Scarsdale, Pelham, White Plains, Pocantico Hills, Eastchester, Nyack, and Somers school districts.”

Last year, in a difficult financial climate, the MTA gave back $250,000, which the district accepted, but there were no contractual “strings” attached.

The district release, which appeared shortly after the one from the MTA, characterizes the MTA offer somewhat differently: “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.” (The district website has more salary details.)

Although the release leaves unsaid exactly what modifications the district is looking for in its next contract, it mentions wanting to have greater flexibility to make “operational changes that would have potential cost savings.”

According to the MTA, the board of education is “being shortsighted in rejecting this generous proposal as it offers well-needed funds for the short term, and stability for the next three years.”

Accepting the offer – the bird in the hand – would help reduce this year’s budget increase or allow for the restoration of positions or programs that have been cut.

The district, on the other hand, views accepting the offer as dooming the district to tax rate increases of “more than eight percent for each of the two contract extension years.”

Further, the budget has already been reduced significantly – resulting in a “1.22% budget-to-budget increase and a 2.08% tax rate increase, the lowest in memorable history and possibly ever,” according to the district release.

The administration is acting like it’s happy with the bird already in hand – and may be counting on bagging an additional bird or two during upcoming contract negotiations.

In any case, the hostile tone of the back-to-back releases suggest that the two sides have a long way to go in finding a mutually agreeable formula – and there is not a lot of time left to find common ground. The board has until April 20 to adopt the final budget it will propose to the community for a vote on May 18.

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52 comments to Teachers’ Union & District Clash on Contract Concessions

  • Anon E Mous

    It’s so simple …

    ‘Oblivious to the pain inflicted on taxpayers less well off than they are, the state teachers union is sticking to its predictions of doomsday if education spending is touched.

    This is hooey, a ritualistic scaremongering that calls into question the ability of teachers to actually teach if they have no regard for facts.

    Here’s a novel thought: How about unions do right by our kids? If they care about New York students, they’ll step up to the plate and help minimize the impact of sensible reductions.’

    - Michael Goodwin

  • Proud of our board

    THank you to Paul Fried and the board for not accepting a union concession that would be a short-term solution and would hurt the district in future years.

  • Disappointed

    I applaud the Board for this decision. The teacher’s union gets my disgust. I imagine our children will be observing them in their black t-shirts again (in 11-12) while they protest working without a contract as there will be no easy agreement since they have obviously lost touch with reality.

  • alumni

    I don’t believe it can be that cut and dry — why is it that so many other districts in the county and state accepted similar offers? And all those districts see it as a long-term solution? What is our BOE missing?

    • Anon E Mous

      Refused was a ‘sub-prime’ loan so as not to further mortgage the future. The next contract must ‘pay back’.

      ‘You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
      Another day older and deeper in debt.
      Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go;
      I owe my soul to the company store.’

      - Merle Travis, et al.

  • interesting

    According to the Scarsdale Patch, Scarsdale teachers voted to reduce contractual pay increases by 1 percent until 2012. According to the Pelham Weekly, Pelham teachers agreed to a 2.9% salary increase in the 2010-11 year (instead of the 3.5% in their contract), a salary increase of 2.7% (instead of 3.8%) for the 2010-12 year and 2% increases in the following two years, as well as alterations to salary grades and other concessions. i fail to see how the meager concession advanced by the M’neck teachers (in exchange for a rushed extension for two years with no changes) even begins to compare to agreements of these two representative communities (I did not have the appetite to check any more). I will also refrain to comment, the degree of brazeness of the TU PR speaks for itself. This having been said, such an outrageous proposal does not take nerves of steel to be flatly turned down, so let’s save our praise to the District Board and Admin for when they actually will start holding and pressing back the line in next year’s negotiations.

  • Scott

    Why is Dr Fried’s “retirement” not a topic of conversation? He is retiring with full benefits (over two hundred grand a year) while taking the same job in NJ. How can someone clearly abusing the system And showing a total lack of good faith be considered a responsible leader?

    • Disappointed

      Dr. Fried is not abusing the system…the system is abusing the taxpayers. Most (all?) public positions allow retirement at relatively young ages with generous pensions. Some choose to continue working in the private sector. Superintendent’s seem to be unique in that they can remain in their public position in another state. We have now learned that these pension packages are bringing schools and state governments to the brink of bankruptcy. It is time for the system to change, however Dr. Fried’s choice to maximize his income and retirement does not mean he is an irresponsible leader. Sounds more like he is a committed breadwinner to his family. I would have a hard time faulting anyone who is trying to secure their financial future…

  • Groundhog Day

    In response to “alumni”, that is a good question, but one that I think I can answer (at least partially). The Board is likely not missing anything. Unlike many other school districts who entered into new contracts with better terms (for the respective districts) last year or this year, our teachers’ contract does not expire until next year — translation: our contract is much more “off market” than other districts, largely because of the timing of our contract versus the commencement of the economic down-turn.

    Based upon the information we have, the fact that our required contributions to the teachers’ pensions are only likely to increase and the fact that our State aid is only likely to decrease, I can’t imagine agreeing now to set raises prior to negotiating all of the terms of the teachers’ contract.

    I support our teachers and think that our children are receiving an excellent education; however, the current level of taxes is likely the maximum many in our community can tolerate and the historical increases are not sustainable going forward.

    Therefore, based upon the information we have, I fully support the Board’s decision and hope that the MTA will come back with suggested concessions that are more in-line with “market”.

    • alumni

      Thanks — that helps.
      But didn’t the union response say they expected a counter-proposal from the Board and didn’t get one? It seems (I could be wrong and I’m sure we’ll be hearing from the Board and the union again!) that the Board had an opportunity to ask for more but didn’t. It still seems like we aren’t hearing the whole story.

  • catherine

    I have written to the board with my congratulations. The salad days of unions are passed. Free health care and full pensions are strangling the taxpayers.

    Thanks Scott for that observation about Fried. While I cannot blame a person for grabbing all they can get, it’s time to put a stop to automatic raises and free benefits. The taxpayers must insist that union members pay (at least a portion) for benefits like the rest of us. My health care bill alone is $1500/month. And I am fortunate to even get insurance as a small business owner.

  • catherine

    @ Disappointed. Couldn’t agree more. Everyone will and should get the most they can out of any system. I would do the same. But how do we turn the tide so this is not seen as a perrenial entitlement? One has to look no further than GM to see what overly generous benefits do to a system. (That and mismanagement will do it every time : )

  • Confused

    How can we expect Dr Fried to come up with solutions when he is clearly part of the problem?

    • Anon E Mous

      Confused. You’re not!

      Perhaps the ‘newer’ members of the union will realize, that the greatest economic benefits of the Union actions go to the most senior members, while the greatest economic threats of that is to them.

      Hopefully our community will see what must be done before a ‘Bernie’ has taken what it’s had.

      And please, as Robert Frost said, ‘Forgive me my nonsense as I also forgive the nonsense of those who think they can talk sense.’

  • Disappointed

    Sadly…the tide takes a long time to turn in this case, as those who set policy also benefit from similar benefit packages on the taxpayers’ payroll. We need to put pressure on our leaders and we need to elect more leaders like George Latimer who are not blinded by greed.

  • Sarah

    Couldn’t agree more with “disappointed”. As a much more diverse district, we don’t have the tax base nor do our teachers have the professionalism that Scarsdale teachers have. The standards for tenure and their educational credentials are much higher than are our teachers. Moreover, they actually stay after school to help their students and return parents’ calls. Class offerings are much wider and class sizes much lower.

    Pelham teachers are paid so much lower than are our teachers when salaries and health benefit contributions are taken into consideration. It is incredible that they are used as a basis of comparison. Tax rates in Pelham are, on average, strikingly lower than are our tax rates. Again, average class sizes are much lower.

    Rye teachers have not settled their contract negotiations and are still professional and don’t wear black T-Shirts.

    If one looks at the educational credentials, average class sizes and a variety of other factors as reported by the April issue of the Westchester Magazine featuring the “Best High Schools in Westchester”, MHS fares particularly poorly in so many variables. This was not always the case.

    Where would we be without the generosity of wealthy parents supporting the programs individually or though the Mamaroneck Schools Foundation? Or, alternatively, the huge amount of money these parents spend compensating for sub-par teachers and SAT tutoring (which in many districts is fully funded for all students).

    Finally, a recent article in the New York Times reported that, due to the current economic reality, many university professors experience drastic pay cuts and are making less than the average tenured Mamaroneck teacher (when benefit contributions are considered.

    • Disappointed

      I would say that all the professors with a PhD at SUNY are making less than the average teacher in our district. They make about $75k and the deans of the colleges make about $102-110k. I don’t know what their benefit packages are. Our district uses $115k as the cost of a teacher in their calculations. Our administrators seem to have salaries from $125k-250k.

    • Bob Jones

      Sarah–please check your facts. In the Scarsdale teachers’ contract, they are allowed to leave school following their last teaching assignment of the day, whereas in Mamaroneck, teachers are contractually required to stay at school until 3:30. Hommocks and MHS dismiss at 2:45 and the elementary schools at 3:00, so technically, Mamaroneck teachers DO stay after school, and are available to help students, daily.

      So what makes Mamaroneck teachers “sub-par,” wearing black t-shirts? Teachers don’t criticize how you dress, do they? If you have a problem with an individual teacher, you should speak to that teacher, it’s not as anonymous as posting on a blog.

    • Alumni

      Wow. I don’t know which school your kids went to, but my experieneces currently at Central and HMX have been great. The teachers have better credentials than any other teachers I’ve met anywhere — including Scarsdale — and the tenure process is similar across the state. Maybe your elementary school or your specific teachers weren’t good, but my children had small class sizes and simply amazing teachers who worked incredibly hard and attended all functions after school, evenings and weekends.
      And the tax rate in Pelham is HIGHER than Mamaroneck and the teacher salaries are comparable. I checked.

    • MHS Teacher

      Teachers who have worked in both districts do not share your view that Scarsdale teachers are more professional and more qualified than their Mamaroneck counterparts.

      The most recent Middle States evaluation of Mamaroneck High School cites the teaching staff as its greatest asset. The seasoned head of the team and major writer for the Middle States report stated that he had “never been in a school in which there were so many fine teachers!” The Board of Education repeatedly asserts its appreciation of, and pride in, the district teachers.

      I usually stay after school into the evening hours, and I am
      surrounded by colleagues who do the same. Most teachers are in their rooms long before school starts. During prep periods and sometimes at lunch teachers work with individual students or small groups. We are professionals – this is all part of what we do and who we are. If you have issues with a particular teacher because your child is not getting extra help, take it up with the teacher and if that is not satisfactory, speak with an administrator.

      College and university professors and teachers have traditionally made less than elementary and secondary teachers because their work load is smaller.

      We are very aware of the economic issues facing the residents of the district because we face the same difficulties. Many of the teachers’ spouses have lost their jobs, and some of us will not return next year and may never teach again because of the economic downturn. In the last economic downturn, we went to the district and offered to give up a raise in return for a continuation of the contract. The district agreed. This kind of concession is not a one – time lowering of income – it repeats every year afterward. This past year the teachers’ offer to give back money and to increase its contribution to health insurance costs was gratefully accepted by the district. Now, we have offered to give up 1.1% of next year’s salary in return for a contract extension. Not only was this offer refused, the district did not suggest an alternative for us to consider.

      When our current contract was signed after protracted negotiations, the Board was very happy. The teachers received raises, and in return agreed to changes which increased our amount of work and time, along with other concessions. Apparently they are more interested in gaining additional concessions in 2011 by casting us in a negative light now than they are in saving a substantial amount of money and lowering the budget rate increase this year.

      This seems to be an appropriate time to reveal that a few years ago it was teachers who alerted the Board that the district was bleeding money unnecessarily and that it was the direct result of inappropriate Central Administration practices. The Board investigated and acted on its findings.

      • Anon E Mous

        Negotiating – The MUFSD’s Counter-proposal: Each MTA member gets the same compensation adjustment for the upcoming year (computed based on the member’s current year number) as the Assemblyperson for the area took this year. No other changes to the contract now. Next year we’ll discuss next year. And, everything is on the table when the current contract expires. Too much we ask, you say, remember, certain financial events invalidate contracts.

        First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. – Ghandi

      • BOYCOTT THE SCHOOL BUDGET

        Dear Teacher:

        How much of your health care benefits do you pay for? I believe it is 6% percent of the cost. Do you realize what the average American employee pays for health care? I don’t think you do. Dear Teacher, you sound like a dedicated teacher for which we are thankful. I don’t think we have a problem with “teachers,” it is just their compensation package. I believe the average teacher in our district earns over $100,000 a year plus benefits. Do you really feel that you deserve a 4% percent increase in a deflationary time? I am sorry, we promised you the whole pie, but we have to take a piece of it away. Many of us can’t afford the budget. The reason is that we didn’t have good negotiators on our part. They gave you more than deserved. I appreciate your disappointment.

        • teacher

          Just a quick clarification — not being defensive — just clarifying a misconception.
          That $100,000 number the Board uses includes benefits and long term benefits like contributions to retirement and medicare, etc. that are required by law. The average teacher salary in the district is actually closer to $70,000. Are there teachers making $115,000? Yes. The ones who have been in the district for 18 years and have a MA +60 credits.

  • taxpayer

    Please stop bashing the teachers and the teachers union. No one forced our school board to give the teachers union the contract they gave them. The time for concessions, salary reductions, increased health contributions, changes in work rules, and all the other “give backs” now being sought should have occurred during collective bargaining not after the contract was signed. The teachers’ contract in Mamaroneck is among the best in Westchester County. Does anyone seriously believe that the taxpayers got the best deal they could get from the union during the last contract negotiation?
    Between the Hommocks guidance counselors who were mysteriously re-assigned in October 2007, to Omar Rodriguez our district has easily wasted in excess of 1 million dollars in salaries, benefits and legal fees on bad personnel decision making. That money today could equal no tax increase and/or no budget cuts.

  • Grateful

    Thank you to Judy Silberstein for such outstanding and detailed reporting about both sides of such a critical issue.

    Without you, most parents would truly be in the dark.

    • Anon E Mous

      YES and to Paula, et al too! And also for providing our community with an opportunity for a 21st century ‘Town Meeting’, where we can speak freely with each other, regardless of time or place.

  • mrssleigh

    And these salaries are for 9 months. So a salary of $115,000 equals $153,336 for a 12 month year! Pretty sweet.

    And I was talking to a woman from upstate New York, who was surprised to hear our teachers have tenure. Their public schools don’t have that. She asked, “Isn’t that just for university professors?” Why yes, that is how tenure started, to protect professors so they have the freedom to express ideas that may not jibe with the school’s opinions. So this is another giveaway that should be rescinded in the next contract negotiations. Which, I have never heard of transparent negotiations. But since we pay the salaries, ultimately, shouldn’t we be privy to the negotiations?

    • Alumni

      I think (someone could easily verify) that a teacher has to have a Masters plus 60 credits plus be in the district for over 15 years to make that kind of money. I imagine there are very few who do. And from what I have heard, it’s comparable to all of the other Westchester schools. And it’s ten months: 9/1 – 6/30.

    • Judy Silberstein

      Alumni, you are correct that it is easy to verify the salary schedule. It’s posted on the district website

      Salary Schedule from MTA Contract

  • Judy Silberstein

    A number of comments – here and elsewhere – have referenced the salary of the district’s public information officer.

    Please note: the budget line for school-community relations includes funding for the public information officer, consultant fees and some costs of producing district publications.

    It is not accurate to assume that the entire consultant line goes for the services of the public information officer.

    Reminder: if you don’t see your comment posted here, please review the comment for accuracy and civility.

  • Authenticity

    With regard to salaries, it is the district itself that posts an average teacher’s salary of $115,000. Not sure if that includes the benefit package towards which the teaches contribute a paltry amount. The ten months cited does not include all of the vacation days, snow days nor all of the sick days that teachers that teachers receive. Pensions are the icing on the cake.

    Moreover, it’s my guess that most of the teachers do have masters degrees with additional credits, so their salaries do add up. Are their educational credits subsidized by the district?

    While I would commend the MHS teacher who stays until 5:00, most that I’ve seen scoot out of the building by 3:00 or 3:30, regardless of contract negotiations. Sadly, some who are there, are not focusing on their students, but checking personal emails.

    In terms of professionalism, it certainly varies, but looking at the internet site, “Rate your teacher” is pretty illuminating, and, in my children’s experience, fairly accurate.

  • Disappointed

    I think the teacher’s contract is for 186 days (that is 37.2 weeks…so during the 10 months they receive over 6 weeks of vacation time), 8 1/2 hours per day, with a 1 hour lunch (that can’t be infringed upon) and a 30 min. planning period per day (that also can’t be infringed upon.

    • Remarkable

      Cushy lifestyle – no wonder they fight so hard for tenure there!! But they should be paid well – they are educating the future rocket scientists of America. God willing!!!!!!!

  • MHS Teacher

    Here we are again…teacher-bashing in an economic downturn. I have a suggestion: when the economy recovers, get the education you need to become a licensed teacher and you too can have a “cushy lifestyle” and steal money from taxpayers. You might need help differentiating your assessments; preparing for five classes; teaching them; grading essays; conferencing with students and parents; supervising small group tutorials; serving the needs of all of your students, including those with Aspergers Syndrome, Tourette’s, emotional issues, physical disabilities, alcohol and substance addiction, mental illness and learning disabilities. Be prepared for anything, from a student telling you he wishes he could blow away his classmates to a visit from outsiders looking to beat up one of your students. Make sure you like the kids because they will know if you don’t and life will not be as pleasant as it could be. You will not receive an annual bonus large enough to provide a second home. You will not become wealthy. You probably won’t be able to afford to live in this community.
    But you will, if you are good at what you do, make a difference, enjoy the respect of the kids – priceless – and be able to retire at 60% of your salary. When the economy collapses again, you will have the pleasure of being told by people who think they know about teaching because they went to school that you do not deserve your salary because you hardly work and the “salad days are over.”

    • Disappointed

      Teacher- I have been following all of these comments since the first budget presentation in February. I think, if you are honest, there has been very little “teacher” bashing. Union bashing-yes; contract bashing-yes; bankrupting pension plan bashing-yes. Because the community can no longer afford much of the waste in the system does not indicate that the community does not value our teachers and the service they provide. People are fed up with hearing that our teachers are underpaid. They are not underpaid, and in fact they are compensated very well. (Two married teachers making an average wage of $115k are bringing in $230K a year…nearly qualifying for the millionaire’s tax!) If outlining the contract: hours worked, days worked, competitive salaries, tenure, guaranteed step ups for showing up to work, very little evaluation based on merit, and benefits that surpass those of most of the nation’s workers feels like bashing, you should ask yourself “why?” Maybe “salad days” feels harsh…but it came from a small business owner who is struggling to pay medical of $1500/mo. (a typical cost). She is asking the union to get in step with reality.
      Last year the union gave concessions of $250000…or about $500 dollars for each of its 500 members. That amount equals 1/3 of her montly medical insurance bill….I am not surprised that she is fed up. Yours was a collective sacrifice and the community appreciated it. This year…there are strings attached to the teacher’s concessions that will lead to our ever increasing downward spiral in services rendered. So we face rising taxes and less services, yet again. Something has to give and it probably has to come from the unions….unless you think we should just raise class size to 30 across the district so we can fire more teachers and reduce standards. The community is fighting that outcome.

  • Brian Griffin

    To compare the salary data to the private sector, they should be adjusted for:
    - the number of days worked (c. 185 vs 230);
    - the number of hours per day worked;
    - the value of the health care and retirement packages (i.e., gross them up to get to an equivalent gross income figure that enables the private sector employee to pay a large share of their health care cost and to save enough to generate an equivalent retirement benefit);
    - stipends for coaching, running clubs, etc.;
    - the value of 18 or 20 sick days a year, versus the zero to five the person working in the private sector gets;
    - the “premium” a private sector person would gladly pay to be insulated from virtually any risk of being fired;
    - the cash income some teachers get from tutoring (which can run up to $250 per hour) and gross that up to a pre-tax level; and
    - add in any summer job income.

    Now we’re looking at numbers that resemble an “apples to apples” comparison. Anyone want to take a stab at estimating what mrssleigh’s $115,000 actually grosses up to be on an equivalent basis to a private sector salary?

    The community clearly has spoken. It wants to retain services, not cut them. It wants those services to be provided at a cost it can afford, not a cost that the wealthier 20% of the community can afford, while the other 80% sell out, pack up and leave the community the October after the youngest child graduates from high school.

    If the cost of providing education is not cut in real terms, then the quality and variety will be cut. The real cost increase will put downward pressure on the community’s housing values, will raise taxes faster and will require further cuts in the quality and variety of educational services offered. As the quality of education on offer is cut, the people who most value education will buy homes elsewhere. Those who do buy homes locally in the school district will pay less for those homes because of the perceived higher tax burden. They may well be less vested in preserving the quality of the schools than their predecessors have been.

    In order to prevent this downward spiral from gaining speed, the community, the Board and the district’s employees must find ways to offer top quality education at a lower price. Along with pay cuts, this means reformulating what it means to be in class, what it takes to continue to be allowed to teach, and the role of the teacher in the classroom. Distance learning, individualized tutorials and other means of educating children must replace the heavy reliance on people. Education may be the last industry to shed it’s labor-intensive character, but that change will come.

    So alas, Bambi has shed her spots and grown up. Now she’s munching on the shrubbery. Rapidly turning into a pest. Fortunately, unlike the union, Bambi does not eat her young.

    • Larchmont for Life

      Bravo, truer words have never been spoken.

      If the teachers don’t give an inch I’ll he happy to take a mile the next time the contract comes up.

      Welcome back to America teachers and administrators.

    • Remarkable

      Wow!!! I love the analogies here. Very well said. Especially the last line :-)

  • Long Time Larchmonter

    As a second generational Larchmonter since 1976, now raising two children within the school district I am appalled by the budget being put forward as a result of union concessions and the funds being spent to study a princeton program.

    The Mamaroneck Teachers Union needs to get back in touch with reality where not everyone receives a 5%+ increase on a YOY basis with a near minimal contribution to health care and pension costs. In most industries you are told what your contribution will be and if you don’t like it you may choose to move on to a different employer. The teachers union, administrators and the persons running the school all need to make sacrifices during these hard times especially if you ask people to reach into their pocket to pay additional tax levies.

    The Princeton plan being put forward is a waste of time which will further devalue our properties resulting in lower tax assessments and an additional tax burden relative to the value of the homes. This plan will cause great inconvenience to working parents (many of whom move here for neighborhood schools) and an added cost for transportation for both the schools and the parents.

    Longer term the writing on the wall is evident that persons living in the Larchmont/Mamaroneck community will begin to choose private schools or move elsewhere as they have the economic power of choice.

    If you do not act now to bring the teachers union back to reality this year or next year when the contract is up you will be facing a mass exodus the likes of which you may have never seen before.

    My wife & I along with our neighbors fully intend on voting no to the school budget this May unless the teachers share in the sacrifices. The tag line is always “children first” until you ask a teacher or administrator to make a sacrifice. That being said eliminating aids while it may go unnoticed as grave consequences to the children and teachers remaining in the class room.

    VOTE NO TO THE BUDGET TO FORCE THE UNION TO MAKE CHANGES….IF NOT THIS YEAR THAN NEXT YEAR WHEN THEY GO WITHOUT A CONTRACT FOR THE FORSEEABLE FUTURE.

    Don’t believe “we will lose all of our higher quality teachers. The last I checked every school system in the tri-state area is making cuts and private schools pay substantially less.

  • o teachers

    Dear teachers, pls know that you are not singled out. We know that admin and janitorial staff is also on a contract, with guaranteed everything. So voting NO to the budget will also send, hopefully, a message to the hundreds of low-productivity high-total cost employees of the other four bargaining units. Btw, how long do you think the Super and Asst-Super will spend in two years renegotiating up to 5 contracts (not sure when they all expire – if I were in charge of the unions, i would make sure they all expire at the same time so that my opponent has less time to dedicate to each) instead of managing education in the district ?

  • Long Time Larchmonter

    If only we knew what our police force and “paid” firefighters pulled down encompassing benefits and pensions the town would be up in arms. Every civil servant position should be up for review prior to continuing these astronomical salary and benefit increases translating into increased tax dollars. And to all those who claim they put their lives on the line everyday, go ahead and quit and watch 50 applications fly in to fill your position at a 20% pay decrease. Wake up people.

    • Disappointed

      you are correct…it is a shame the community can’t scrutinize the town and village budgets in the same way we can the school budget…

  • Judy Silberstein

    Town and village budgets are developed in a public process that is similar to those undertaken by the schools.

    There are line-by-line reviews, public presentation of a tentative and preliminary budget; and public hearings leading up to the board’s final vote.

    Salaries of municipal workers are posted on http://www.seethroughny.net/

    The only procedural step missing is the public vote.

    Typically, the only members of the public present at budget hearings are reporters and residents waiting to speak on other issues.

    • Brian

      Judy,

      I agree with you that similar processes do exist. But there are some critical failings in both processes. Perhaps they are worse in the municipalities than in the School District, but the School District budget has a much larger dollar impact on taxpayers. Six of one, half a dozen of another :-)

      Collective bargaining contract negotiations can be closed to public view and discussions of the work history of each particular professional staff member (which can lead to proposed compensation increases) can also be closed to public view. These items are among the most significant parts of the budget.

      While in the recent year or so, there has been more access to various versions of the “budgets” the various department level budget submissions with information on proposed increases or decreases including possibly impact statements are much less available to the public.

      While in the recent year or so some of our municipal government budget discussions have been made available either on cable-tv or the internet, such is limited and the meetings are not necessarily held at times when residents reasonably can attend. And if residents do attend, they have the right to listen, not to speak.

      Not all our municipalities have a finance committee to review budgets and budget performance. Public hearings on municipal budgets are held at the “end” of the process, a hard time to influence one’s representatives after they spent time over a period of weeks reaching a decision.

      So it is not surprising that few residents participate in the budget hearings. People likely come to speak on what they can understand, see a direct impact on them, and expect a reasonable chance of influence.

      All our municipalities and “districts” have an obligation to enhance their knowledge regarding the budget by seeking out members of the community with financial knowledge to serve as finance committees, and to providing the public with much more information and real opportunity for input.

      Brian

  • I agree with Disapointed

    I also do not feel the actual teachers are being bashed. Rather it is clear that the current contracts and policies are adversely affecting the community.
    I cannot seem to get over the reality that Dr Fried is retiring with full benefits , while taking the exact same job in NJ? We should re-evaluate the Superintendent’s contract , I feel the pay is too high , and there should be restrictions on retirement pay should the individual not be actually retired?
    Also should “professional educators” be the ones responsible for contract negotiations, as I understand it the teachers union has full-time trained contract negotiators handling their contracts?

    • teacher

      Thanks for the compliment, but I was chief negotiator and I’m a full-time English teacher. My team (comprised of teachers) and I were up against the ‘best’ lawyers the district could hire.

      • Anon E Mous

        And thanks to you too. Perhaps you’ve taught some, some of the problem: That our schools are teaching buy what one can’t afford rather than one must learn to accomplish.

        Perhaps as the Superintendent leaves our District position for one in NJ, some NJ teachers will be happy to find a way here for those who ‘might’ choose to ‘walk’ from here.

        Thanks to all who have written here and shared their thoughts and knowledge. It appears much education happens at the Larchmont Gazette. (Oh, sorry, forgot this is not a ‘school’ :-) )

        Knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. – Albert Einstein

  • Taxpayer for Life

    Repeat after me – - NO PENSIONS FOR TEACHERS (or any other public employee)! We should give them generous contributions to their 401(k)’s, which is more than the rest of us get. It’s the retiree health care benefits and pensions that will bankrupt us all!

  • Eleanor

    Larchmont should follow NYC “Bill Would Allow Layoffs of Teachers With Seniority” I bet our teachers would reconsider their hard stand not to negotiate then.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/education/13layoffs.html?fta=y

    “When the Bloomberg administration raised the prospect of teacher layoffs this year, administration officials complained that they would be forced to get rid of the youngest newest teachers, and called on legislators to rewrite the seniority rules.

    That wish may be one step closer. Two Democratic state lawmakers have sponsored a bill that would give principals in New York City the power to choose who should lose their jobs if the city needs to lay off teachers because of budget cuts.”

  • wisdy

    Wisdom continues to gush out of, of all places, NJ. 58% of the school budgets were defeated at the polls, including, you’ve guessed it, that of Montville (of Dr Fried’s fame) where an increase of 4% with no teachers’ concessions did not find the agreement of a majority of voters. Source http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/22/education/22schools.html?hpw and local blogs.

  • Bemused

    Tenure is an outdated concept which dates back to a time of weaker employment protection and less corporate school management and governance. Today between the Union and the law teachers have ample protection against unfair dismissal and blatant discrimination.
    There is no reason why teachers should be exempt from the economic realities which the rest of us live with: merit based promotion, no years of service pay and grade increases, no seniority job protection. It is reasonable for a school to try to balance the number of higher and lower qualified teachers and for there only to be a certain number of senior spots. Years of experience is not synonymous with quality and a certain amount of turnover is healthy to most organizations. We may like the idea of our old teacher being there for our kids but that is neither economic nor necessary for a good education.