The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
April 24, 2009 - John Stack
The Good - I have often written about the short sightedness or even the poor administration of school boards and teachers unions. So, when an article comes up showing some place that is thinking of the students, community and other teachers, I notice. Case in point is Crown Point. The teacher’s union there has agreed to a WAGE freeze. This is a real savings. The teachers won’t get their ‘step increases’. The steps are those hidden increases teachers (and many of us State Workers) get, regardless of a raise. They will be paid the same next year as they were this year. The teachers did it to avoid layoffs, and to keep the level of educational opportunities at the highest levels. Kudos to them. Too bad the union at SLCS hasn’t floated this, as just a give back of 1% of the 3% increase would save 2 of the jobs slated for elimination. The non instructional staff at Crown Point didn’t take the wage freeze and will get a contractual 4.5% increase this year.
The bad – The school boards at Beekmantown and Plattsburgh have both denied their superintendents further employment at their schools. In Plattsburgh, the superintendent was denied tenure, after taking an extra year to decide. In Beekmantown, they granted the superintendent tenure, but based it upon the administrator submitting her irrevocable resignation. Both boards have hidden behind their ‘this is a personnel matter’ and that it was discussed in ‘executive session’. There seems to be a little disconnect between what can be legally discussed in executive session and what that means. Personnel decisions can go to executive session. But, there is no law barring who may attend the executive session (if invited by the board). There is also no law barring any of the board members, teachers or anyone else in discussing any problems that parents, students, board members or teachers had with administrators. There seems to have been no reports whatsoever about what could have been the problem with either administrator, other than anonymous postings about there being teachers who unduly influence the boards.
The Ugly – The Tupper Lake village board voted to increase everyone’s salary significantly this year. Granted, they hadn’t gotten raises in a very long time. But, why didn’t this come up during good economic times? How about the Reagan years? How about the Clinton years? Why would they choose to stick the village taxpayers with more of a burden in the worst economic climate of our lives? The raises really don’t amount to a whole lot, but the timing of this has got to be the absolutely worst possible timing for a raise in the history of Tupper Lake, if not the whole region. One board member, a new one, voted against the raise, because he was new and he campaigned for the job knowing what it paid, and what it involved. Ironically, everyone else has been there much longer, they all knew how much they were to make, yet they ran anyway. Unbelievable. Gov Paterson has been raked over the coals for seeming to give raises to his staff during this economic crisis. Somehow, the village board overlooked this and just couldn’t see how this was a really bad idea at this time. I mean, there is the idea they deserve it. But, we have millions of people OUT of work, who can't vote to raise their pay!