LEAVE NO POB TEACHER OR EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL BEHIND
This month's column was originally written as a letter to the parent leaders Plainview-Old Bethpage.
While we all
breathed a sigh of relief with the recent passage of our school budget, I wish
having a budget in place meant we could look forward to a smooth opening of
school in the fall. Unfortunately,
as we prepare for the end of this school year, a sense of foreboding darkens
our thoughts of the fall and what may well be a troubled start of a new school
members of the PCT and you are
well aware that profound mismanagement of our district gave us a less than
rational budget process this year and substantial cuts in programs for our
most challenged students. Even
though our members had nothing to do with our budget crisis, we did the
responsible thing and offered the district a plan that would have met their
financial need while keeping the district=s
wages competitive and its academic programs intact.
For reasons that have never been made clear to us, our offer of
partnership to solve the district=s
financial problem was rebuffed.
We are well aware
that citizens of Long Island are feeling the squeeze of escalating property
taxes and the general cost of living. We
live here too! Some of our members
are obligated to work several jobs to provide for their families.
Our members have worked tirelessly to change the way education is
funded in New York State where we have relied increasingly on the regressive
property tax to support our schools. But
for now, we have to live with the tax system we have.
While some may
think we are overpaid and indulged with a rich benefit package, the facts
speak otherwise, and here are some of them derived from the last yearly BOCES
study done for school boards and their administrators.
- No matter where one looks
on the POB teacher salary schedule, our salaries hover at about the 50th
percentile for Nassau County. Our
beginning salaries are disturbingly lower than that and undoubtedly affect our
Fact - Contrary to popular opinion, POB=s staff contributes heavily towards their health insurance. Members pay 25% of the cost of a family plan, the highest teacher contribution rate in Nassau County. Whereas many districts contribute substantially towards health insurance for retirees, POB=s contribution is the lowest in Nassau County, providing only what the law requires.
- While we, as almost all
school employees on Long Island, have other good benefits like dental and
disability insurance, ours is provided through a union administered welfare fund
that has historically been able to provide these benefits cheaper than school
The simple truth is
that if you compare the salaries and benefits of POB staff with similar high
performing districts in Nassau County, our staff is behind all of them.
Not only are we behind them, but we usually have to struggle to maintain
our position while they almost effortlessly extend their contracts from year to
year. Just the other day a contract
settlement was announced in Syosset that will essentially keep their teachers
abreast of inflation. What makes
Syosset different? How come their
look to solve their budget problems on the backs of the people who do the most
important work of the school district?
What is it about the leadership of the Manhasset district that faced with
a need to hold the line on their budget preserved every teaching position and
program while seeking substantial economies in other areas of their budget, most
notably through a reduction in their administrative table of organization.
not even asking to be paid what our colleagues in these high performing
districts make. We know that our
afford that at the moment. We just
want to fall any further behind them.
You have our pledge
that in the days ahead we will continue to make every effort to find a solution
to our contract issues. In these
efforts, we will try to inconvenience you and your children as little as
possible. We ask that you understand
that we are struggling to be treated justly.
We ask that you understand the needs of the staff who care for your
children and understand that they cannot forget their own.
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