Press-Republican

Opinion

April 1, 2014

Letters to the Editor: April 1, 2014

City School budget

TO THE EDITOR: Plattsburgh City School budget needs $2.7 million to pay for employee benefit increases: health care, worker’s compensation, retirement and salary/COLA.

They knew this was coming and it’s obvious it is not about the kids.

Be ready for the board’s drama queen tears and faux regrets as to how wrenching it is to demand taxpayers approve Fred’s dusted-off 13-percent tax hike. And, if disapproved, Fred’s counterpunch is to impose a contingency budget, gutting programs and staff. We know Fred’s thinking is warped, but now it is Putin-ized.

Everyone wants this roller-coaster budgeting to end. The teachers union is in negotiation; it would be considerate of them to pitch in by agreeing to end some excess benefits and increase their share of health-care costs.

If not, BOE should: 

Switch to Plan B, without compromise, saving $1.3 million/year.

Longevity and advanced education credit steps do not correlate to teacher effectiveness. Ending them would save millions per year. 

Subsidizing retirees’ Medicare Part B is insane, but it remains ($400K/year). 

Reduce the highest health insurance buyback in the region or end it, like most districts have done ($1 million/year). 

Staff underutilization and hiring policies that favor costlier options over fiscal sensitivity continue. 

Merging services and district downsizing are unrealized.

For a decade, PCSD’s state test scores have been less than acceptable. That has incurred the dreadful overtesting in Common Core and teacher evaluation mandates, costing taxpayers millions and holding students hostage to dysfunction. This hardly justifies salary increases and/or expanded benefits.

Locally, Short is the highest-paid superintendent, with a confidential secretary and the only assistant superintendent. Big bucks for someone who lets Fred wag the dog instead of taking command.

We deserve more. 

WALTER CHMURA

Plattsburgh

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