Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Contingency Budget ... Topped With A Settled GTA Contract ... ?

   
Several sources told me prior to last Tuesday's vote that had the budget passed, GTA was promised a deal. I chose not to reveal that plan before the vote, because I didn't want to be credited/blamed for the outcome.  

Apparently, some of our "leaders" felt that if the community was ready to eat an astronomical tax hike, then we may as well swallow it with a chaser of higher union wages and benefits for the teachers. Oddly, the union did not take a stance on the budget and it was defeated by a wide margin at the polls. Word is that union Pres. Don Pallozzi is still chomping at the bit for a settlement.

On Monday night, the Greece school board will likely declare a contingent budget that is a mere $1.19 million less than the budget defeated at the polls last Tuesday. It's also possible, likely even, that the GTA contract will soon (Monday night maybe?) be settled, but at what additional cost? Where will the extra money in our "bare bones budget" be "found" to fund it?

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see if the GTA gets a contract with any increases. This is a time when every employer, including union shops like GM, Ford etc.have had to cut costs. They did it by increasing the employee share of the cost of benefits. If the BOE offers a contract that doesn't include some cost reductions the loud NO that the town shouted on Tuesday will be but a whimper! We must contain costs before we simply drive everyone away from Greece. We pay more and more each year, and our students' academic performance lags almost everyone in the county.
Charlie Hubbard keeps arguing that any new increases in cost should be accompanied by some statement of "benefit for cost", showing how the extra cost will bring some improvement in our schools. Wouldn't this be a wonderful time to show the taxpayers how increased costs will translate to increased benefits?

SCATS said...

To 8:17AM ~~ Surely you must jest! This is Greece Central we're talking about. There is NO WAY GTA will forego wage increases. I just don't see it happening.

still laughing at gcsd said...

"Superintendent Steven" is BRILLIANT. He found a way to get GTA to settle for less money by proposing a budget that is as out of touch with reality as GTA's leadership is.

He played the Board of Education and got the voters to do what he couldn't accomplish on his own.

Wow...what a gem Greece is losing.

Anonymous said...

According to YNN:

Cuomo has also released a video message on the Internet of what he calls the 'New New York Agenda' which lays out Cuomo's vision for the state - including a freeze on all state workers' salaries.

He also calls for a cap on property taxes and a 20-percent reduction in state agencies.

"I want you to know my beliefs," Cuomo said in the video. "I am fiscally prudent and socially progressive. I believe in protecting a woman’s right to choose. I believe in marriage equality. I believe Wall Street needs serious ongoing regulation. I believe public education is the new civil rights battle and I support charter schools. I believe global warming and climate change are real threats to our planet. I am against the death penalty."

****************************

I would like to hear similar vision statements from our candidates for Superintendent and have them posted on YouTube. You believe in technology as a tool for change? Prove it.

Anonymous said...

About time!

SCATS said...

To 12:15PM ~~ You sound like the teacher with an attitude that many in Greece complain about - "Screw the kids (parents & taxpayers too) as long as I get my pay raise!"

Anonymous said...

This blog thread is about to get hijacked!

I can feel it coming already. Like a thunderstorm on the horizon.

SCATS said...

To 1:04PM ~~ Feel free to be a hero, jump in and steer us back home at any point ;)

george hubbard said...

GTA Agreement dated 7/01/04 continues in effect and reads for level and salary (please check figures and math):

“Level”
....“Salary”:

1...$35,000

2...$36.0K..+2.9%

3...$37.0K..+2.8%

4...$38.5K..+4.1%

5...$40.0K..+3.9%

6...$43.0K..+7.5%

7...$46.0K..+7.0%

8...$49.0K..+6.5%

9...$52.0K..+6.1%

10..$55.0K..+5.8%

11..$58.0K..+5.5%

23..$83.0K..top

It is expected employees will advance one level each year.

Growth after 5yrs = $43K/$35K = 22.9%

Growth after 10 yrs = $58K/35K = 65.7%

Question: What is GTA willing to settle for?

SCATS said...

To George Hubbard ~~ THAT IS the question of the hour. What GTA is willing to settle for might be very different from what their Prez. thinks they will settle for. Stay tuned!

Anonymous said...

As a Greece Teacher myself - I would have no problem agreeing to a zero increase. I also think having new hires pay a higher percent of health care and a greater percentage towards their retirement (older teachers should work off of prior commitments just like Delco Retirees, Products retirees, and everyone else would expect their prior agreements to be honored) would be appropriate given our current economic climate.

The one thing I would want in exchange is protections put in to the observation and evaluation process to prevent harassment of teachers. Believe it or not, we still operate in an environment that allows for teachers expressing concerns (over failure to enforce discipline policies, questions about curriculum, etc.) to suddenly be silenced through the evaluation process.

I will say this though – if nearly 100 teachers and teachers assistants are going to lose their jobs due to the budget, I don’t know how the Superintendent can look anyone in the face and say it is impossible to cut a singe district office position. All the Directors, Assistants, Specialists, Assistant Superintendents, and on and on and on…. all too vital to face a single cut. The truth is, the more involved the D.O. is, the more problems it creates.

Bi-polar logic said...

Assuming that George didn't leak any confidential information in his post, that means that ... at a time in history when the rest of the USA was experiencing lay-offs and pay cuts, GTA members enjoyed MASSIVE increases in income.

By giving my money to schools, I don't have to stay awake at night trying to figure out how to balance my family's budget. 'seems fair to me.

Anonymous said...

The fact is that GTA doesn't have to settle for anything. They already have the golden goose in their (continuing in perpetuity) contract. Unless they get MORE, why settle for anything different?!?Maybe it is time to push for a "split contract" that allows this current one to continue for the current employees, and a new one- tighter, more fiscally responsible (with limits on annual benefit sharing by the district) and sustainable for new employees. That way, the current club gets to keep all the goodies they have, but as the current teachers retire or move on over time, the new employees and their contract will become the larger part of the labor budget. It's a slow path, but in light of the current state law that eliminates the need for any real negotiation, it may be the best we can do....

SCATS said...

To Bi-Polar logic ~~ All settled district contracts are a matter of public record. If you care to get an eyeful of GTA's past score, you can read it here:
http://web001.greece.k12.ny.us/files/570/GTA%20Union%20Book%202005.pdf

WARNING! You may want to have a bottle of Pepto-Bismol nearby to help you swallow the contents.

Anonymous said...

The fact that teachers have not had their salaries reduced during tough economic times is disgusting.

I don't want to hear any whining about having one of the lowest starting salaries amongst "professional" job classes either.

Once the economy has recovered and the private company bonuses and 401K matching contributions start flowing again we need to make sure these people don't get a new contract then either!! (Well, unless it's for a pay cut - that would be great!)

In fact, I say we make them stick with their 2004 contract for the next 10 years (that will teach them)!

Sure, they'll complain about it, but who cares? Their families can take the hit like everyone else!!! Especially the ones who have someone else at home who lost work or pay. I don't care if that teacher is the sole breadwinner for her or his family. It doesn't affect me!

I can hear the whining already... these people really are disgusting.

Anonymous said...

BPL

that means that ... at a time in history when the rest of the USA was experiencing lay-offs and pay cuts, the same time
the best off in our society were making much higher percentage increases than teachers, and getting bonuses for wrecking the economy.

Following your logic we should ask for big sacrifices from them too.

The teachers should not be made scapegoats for an economic crisis they did not create?

SCATS said...

To 7:34PM ~~ There's quite a distance between making teachers "scapegoats" as you describe and asking them to forego salary increases like the rest of us have experienced. Few who live in this town benefitted from the boom you refer to ... Pittsford, maybe. Greece, no.

Anonymous said...

I find it so interesting to read all these posts on here. Maybe they should make cuts in the central office positions, such as administrators and other high end positions. Too often people start with the teachers. If you look at the average teacher salary, you will see that it is in line with any other profession that requires a MAster's degree. There are so many things that make up a child, and the teacher cannot be responsible for what goes on in the home. Yet, many people are quick to say, hold teachers accountable. Yes, teachers should be evalauted and held accountable for paperwork and lesson plans. The actual budget was going to cut counselors...They are the adults who have special training to help some of these kids..I feel as though if greece schools manage money better, do less studies and groups that no one sees the results, the people of greece wouldn't reject this budget. I do have 2 children, 1 will start school soon. I am astonished at the fact that it seems that greece schools are closed so often for professional development. I would like to know how many days the greece kids actually attend school. These posts are insightful, but if the BOE and superintendent aren"t reading them, it's like preaching to the choir!

Anonymous said...

Expecting a business to trim salaries and in some cases personnel if money and demand are low is not making "scapegoats". Would you say that roofers and drywall installers and hair dressers and hotel workers and sales clerks and jewelers and cleaners and car salespeople and the rest of us are less to be handled with care than teachers? None of them caused the economic depression any more than the rest of us. Why should teachers and other public union employees be exempt from helping? When there is less money going around people have to economize and that means spend less. Figuring priorities is important as families make choices in their budgets. People are spacing out spending and holding off on some services that were purchased more frequently.
The state government and the local school and town and city boards should challenge the unions and cut their salaries. It is the only solution.

SCATS said...

To 9:40PM ~~ Greece has the shortest school day in the county. The school year is about 182 days or so, also on the short end. On top of that, attending school for half a day counts as a full day in fulfilling NY State attendance requirements. Nice huh? On the other end of the spectrum, Greece has the highest property tax rate in the county and one of the poorest performing districts.

What makes you think the BOE & Supt. don't read the posts on here? They may not all admit it, but many of them do read this BLOG. We've been "monitored" by district office for a long time.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that the BOE reads this as well as district staff... I also feel that it amazes me that Greece has the shortest school year and yet is also low performing. I watch the board on TV and its comical at times. The arguring, the lack of respect for each other... its so time for a change, but when will that day come? If a contingency budget is adopted, what will the average tax increase be? I hope the BOE and superindent try and come up with something else, as Greece was the only Monroe County school to be defeated. I thought Tracey Farmer would win... she is an educator and could bring some insight into what classes and teachers really need... in terms of instruction and curriculum

SCATS said...

To 9:57PM ~~ SOME on the BOE read this. I can't speak for all of them. Regarding Tracey Farmer, I wouldn't vote for her because she stated she moved her kids to the city, then returned to Greece to live AFTER they graduated. If our schools weren't good enough for her kids, then I don't think she can put us back on track.

Regarding the contingency budget ~~ it's likely to be only about $1.19 million smaller than the budget that was defeated. That will reduce the tax levy by about 1%. You'll still feel the pain (almost 7%). You'll get the double whammy if your assessment rose this year, too.

george hubbard said...

For purposes of comparison, the booklet “FACTS & FIGURES 2010” published by Monroe County School Boards Association shows the following for median teacher salaries together with median years of teaching experience:


RANK
.....MEDIAN...MEDIAN YRS
.....SALARY...EXPERIENCE

#1...$60.4K...10 yrs

#2...$58.2K...11 yrs

#3...$58.0K....9 yrs - Greece CSD

#4...$57.3K...12.4 yrs

#5...$56.1K...10.5 yrs


#17..$48.5K... 8 yrs

Readers, please check the numbers... post corrections for errors.

Anonymous said...

7:34-
Teachers should not be artificially exempt from the sacrifices that the rest of the tax-paying Greece community has endured.

Anonymous said...

Shortest school day? By how much? What is Greece at? What specifically are other districts at? What is the average? Same thing for the "shortest school year".

I'd love some follow up info on this. Are we really way off or are we talking a few minutes each day?

SCATS said...

To 12:23AM ~~ I don't have the specifics. I heard BOE member Gale O'Toole talking about the topic at a recent meeting. I'll try to find some answers.

Anonymous said...

Any increase in salary and benefits should be accompanied by educational improvements.
I am sure this is what the union woulde be in favor of???

Anonymous said...

The Greece teacher work day is 7 hours. They are mandated by contract 1 hour planning which cannot be touched by administration and a 30 minute duty free lunch. The students are in school 6.5 hours. I do not believe this is different from many other districts - possibly by 30 minutes for some. I think the average is a 7 hour day.

SCATS said...

To 9:55AM ~~ A Greece teacher's "work day" often bares little resemblance to a Greece student's instructional time, or seat time as it's called by NY state. I'm finding that due to variations in contracts from district to district, it's not easy to get an overview of how many minutes of instructional time our students have compared to other districts. Every time a contract is renegotiated, things seem to change. Greece's seat time is on the shorter end though.

Regarding number of days in school, NY State requires 180 days for students. However, Greece teachers work 187 days. In the student day count, Regents days and professional development days do not count. Half days are counted as whole days. Confused yet?

Based on the district's own published calender, all of Greece's kids attend less than the required 180 days! Greece HS students attend just 170 days, middle schoolers attend 175.5 days & elementary varies a bit between sister schools, etc. but it's about 177 days!

Anonymous said...

11:13 PM... If Greece teachers should not be immune to the economic challenges of others in the Greece community, then neither should police and firemen. All those who call for teachers to take less play should be equally vocal in cutting police and fire salaries.

Also, all private business employees who have not lost pay or benefits should voluntarily return some of their money to their companies.

Everybody should be the same in America, right? That's what democracy and capitalism are all about! Everyone being the same.

Somehow that doesn't sound right though... can someone help me figure this out?

SCATS said...

to 11:50AM ~~ There is a big difference in my mind between paying a policeman or fireman $80,000+/yr. and paying a K-2 phys ed teacher equivalently! The police & fire folk work more than 187/yr. don't they? Do they get essentially unlimited sick leave after 3 yrs? I don't think so! While they have union protection, they do not have tenure and can be fired (reference Greece PD scandals and the firings of Brian Ball, Robert Trowbridge, etc) with cause. Let's not forget that Greece teachers aren't risking their lives to do their jobs on most days ;)

As far as private business employees are concerned, I think they have already suffered from job losses, pay cuts and reduced or lost benefits. Most are paying much higher health care premiums than just 4 yrs. ago. Can GTA members make the same claim? Of course not.

Anonymous said...

To 11:50 Don't try to put words into our mouths.

???"all private business employees who have not lost pay or benefits should voluntarily return some of their money to their companies."??
Nowhere did anyone say that the staff at the schools should return any earned money to the schools. They should get less in their salaries from this point on. That is the recommendation.
Many public employees that are union members are protected and can receive no decrease in pay but let's stick to the schools since that's the focus of this thread. I personally do not recommend removing firemen or the people that fix our bridges)

The district should stop paying their big salaries and stop giving raises. Let them sue and whine in court.
Another strategy is to remove from the program all the non-mandated programs and their staff. Then those that remain would still get big salaries and the others would be unemployed for a time. It is the only way to save money and keep the essentials.
Do we need a list once again of the surprisingly non-mandated programs? (for those of you that already have it memorized by now don't bother reading)
Elementary art, music, band and chorus, lessons, kindergarten,pre-kindergarten, librarians, counselors, psychiatrists. The state requires phys ed time of 135 minutes a week at this level but it can be overseen by the regular teacher as well as music, art, health can. I can hear the grieving now.
There is no mandated need for a librarian at each school just a district librarian and the libraries could be staffed by non-union people. (By the way did you know we in the community are allowed to use the district's schools libraries free of charge?)
Same goes for counselors. There is the mandate for a district counselor administrator and a plan (which we don't have) but no mandate for counselors at each school or any school.
At the secondary level we could look to Odyssey to find out how they survive with so few electives and get quality results. They have only 2 languages to choose from for example.
And there is no state mandate for band and chorus during the school day. It could be offered after school as a club with a stipend director. Same for all the art classes. NY just requires one of either be taken and passed to graduate. Basic art or music history for example. So we could be back to basics at the high school level too and remove the teachers that have those jobs. Tenure does not protect the program but rather it protects the staff member. If a program is eliminated the position is eliminated. The first person to possibly be let go in that position can then bump someone else (if they are qualified to teach in another discipline) that has less tenure. The union will always survive no matter how few members it has. And the union cares nothing about the individual members. Once a position is eliminated that member no longer is in the union and doesn't matter. The union would rather see positions and programs eliminated than see the members have to pay more for benefits or receive lower raises.

Anonymous said...

wow 2:24 PM... wow...

I can see the recruiting slogan now to attract bright new teachers to Greece.

"Nowhere did anyone say that the staff at the schools should return any earned money to the schools. They should get less in their salaries from this point on. That is the recommendation."

That should work out nicely ;)

And we wonder why this country is falling behind in education?

SCATS said...

To 4:42PM ~~ Please show me any correlation between teacher salary and performance in Greece Central! If there were any, then we'd know that Pinebrook & Odyssey teachers got paid more. They don't, but nice try ;)

Anonymous said...

SCATS, you're talking about current teachers distributed across buildings with very different populations of students. A more interesting experiment would be to switch the teaching staffs of Pinebrook and a more challenging elementary school and see what happens. I doubt the Pinebrook kids scores will drop and the teachers leaving Pinebrook might have quite an eye-opening experience when working with more challenging students.

What I'm talking about is recruiting new teachers in the future. When a bright new teacher has to choose between a job offer from Greece or another district, I don't think the reputation of a community bent of paying teachers less will be a plus for attracting that teacher.

SCATS said...

To 4:55PM ~~ According to other posters over the last 4 yrs. I've run this BLOG, Greece's reputation is already in the toilet. But I have seen/heard no problems related to recruiting new teachers. With so many teacher factory type colleges in the area, I'm not sure it would become an issue. Perhaps we'll never know until we try.

Anonymous said...

OF course there are less new jobs than graduates, so I suppose Greece is okay, but many new teachers that I have met are hesitant to teach in Greece. Over time that will have an effect on the district.

I think if teachers think the community doesn't respect them they will when the opportunity comes look elsewhere.

SCATS said...

To 6:19PM ~~ Hestitant until they see how short our day & calender are and how generous the pay & benefits ;)

Anonymous said...

GTA will get a contract and the president will get full time release! That is a fact!

Anonymous said...

GTA will get a contract and the president will get full time release. What a sham!