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Letter: But Again, “No!”

We’ve all waited close to nine months for public statements from the Herricks Teacher’s Association and the Herricks administrators regarding a possible temporary freeze in salaries and benefits during these extremely difficult economic times. Nine months of silence ended at the last Herricks School Board meeting with the Teachers’ union president saying “no” to opening up contract discussions. He continued giving the usual and expected “spin” about the per pupil spending as compared to neighboring districts and we being the lowest although we remain one of the top districts on Long Island. Next was the line about how families continue to move into the district because of the excellent school system. Then came the “unfunded mandates” line from the state and local government as well as the New York State budget process. Although this all may be true, all these things can be said in any of the so-called neighboring school districts as well.

The one group the unions never seem to acknowledge are the families and residents of the Herricks School District and the quality of the “home” and “family” environment we provide for them to work in. Our loving, caring, stable and nurturing homes provide our students the ability to excel within a great school system created by past residents who demanded the best and upheld to this day by the current residents. But our families are struggling. Many homes are in disrepair. Unemployment is up (unless you are a Herricks employee of course, then you just keep getting raises every year) and unemployment extension benefits are running out, no increase in Social Security for our loving and caring senior residents, Federal workers getting a pay freeze, New York State is laying off workers, and even New York City teachers are losing their jobs. We don’t want much from all the Herricks employees; all we asked for last year was a full freeze for every Herricks employee with regard to salary and benefits. A one year hiatus but no, the unions gambled and won. They denied residents, students and families some time to catch their “financial breath!” What a pity, how wonderful could it have been during this spectacular time of year if the statement last week by the HTA president was something other than “no!” We could have worked as a “family” to find common ground so everyone could be happy, but again, “no!” We now await the public statement by Herricks School Board President Turner on the issue; how that goes is anyone’s guess.

But not to worry, we have now learned by example – the union’s example of silence and the word “no.” We aren’t going to come to the board meetings to publicly ask for concessions, we aren’t going to participate in all the emotional propaganda about class size and the possible detrimental effects on student activities, or any of the other potential ills that have become associated with the budget process. We’ll just stay silent and say “no” when the appropriate time comes. And maybe while we are at it, we can find a way to have a school board made up with more than one trustee that actually has children in our schools.

Stay tuned …more to come.

Jim Gounaris