I attended several Board of Education regular and finance committee meetings this Spring and was struck by a major difference this year relative to potential job cuts: very few members of the public attended these meetings and even fewer spoke up about restoring the proposed job cuts. Is the public tired of going to bat for employees who continue to get salary increases and health insurance benefits exceeding those of the average worker in the community?
There have been several years of tough budgets and the public is much more informed about school labor issues than ever. They know that, even without a new contract settlement, teachers get a salary increase by moving up a step on the 28 step salary schedule. They know that negotiators have dug in on serious talks about health insurance. And, they know that state law implemented a tax cap limiting the tax levy increase to 2%, or so they thought.
Our administration and Board of Education members decided to ignore the tax cap this year and will be asking the voters to approve a spending plan that exceeds the cap by almost 1%, or $100,000. I dare say that all of this money (and then some) will go to additional expenses for the salary increases and health insurance costs agreed to by the Board of Education in October when they extended the Teacher's contract for three years. Taxpayers and parents can no longer blindly support employee positions in the district. It is time for a change in the balance of power.