I have read the letters from teacher/residents Mayer and Weiner concerning the school district contract negotiations. In their letters the teachers speak in terms of "community support" and sending a "positive message."
Didn't this town show "community support" in passing the bond? Wasn't a "positive message" sent when the budget passed? Despite this community support, these teachers deem it appropriate to question our school board's method of contract negotiations.
There are many teachers in this district who are earning $100,000 or close to it. There are few people who earn such salaries who have two weeks off for Christmas, a week off in February and April and have the summer off. Despite teaching in the classroom less than 20 hours per week and working only 8 1/2 months a year, our teachers feel devalued.
In one of the letters printed in this paper, a teacher speaks of her desire to give our children her "complete attention" this school year. She implies that her complete attention may be compromised if the contract situation is not resolved promptly to her satisfaction.
There are many people who give their complete attention to their work in bad times because they have to. It is necessary to do so in the private sector. While contract negotiations are often unpleasant we should expect our teachers to act appropriately rather than complain about their jobs which are clearly well paid with good benefits, a pension and with ample vacation. Instead, we read in the paper that a teacher worries as to whether she will be able to giver her "complete attention" to her duties. How can this be? She should be well rested since she has been on vacation since late June.
In the private sector annual raises are often delayed for months. There are various problems in some industries causing some people to work without a raise. People in all communities face these problems. When people are confronted with such obstacles in the private sector they wait things out or start a job search. Most of us don't have the option or the gall to complain to our clients or employers without some kind of negative outcome.
At some point a contract will be reached between the school board and the teachers. Some people will be happy with the contract and some will not. If after a contract is reached there are teachers who feel devalued, so be it.
This town is in the process of undergoing a huge expense to improve the physical infrastructure of the school buildings. Our community is doing this despite an imminent raise in property taxes. Yet, there are teachers who are questioning our community support. Let's face it, our teachers are paid at the top of the market and teach in an excellent environment. While we have good teachers, our children for the most part come from families where one or both parents are college educated. It is easier to have academically successful students when the parents are well educated. Before a teacher chooses to gripe about our school board, the teacher should look at other school districts and working conditions in the private sector.
As a community we have certainly provided our teachers with good pay, vacation time, pensions and benefits. However, we are not obligated to provide continual raises on a recession proof basis during an economic downturn with the Nassau County reassessment looming.
Last week I was in the subway on a 100-degree day on the way to a meeting. After the meeting I went to my office and worked until 8 p.m. Many of us have to do things like this to afford to live in this town. It is irrelevant to our clients or employers that we may feel devalued. In the private sector we are paid to produce, not emote.
At the end of another long work week is it surprising that I am not sympathetic for the "devalued" psyche of school district employees earning six figures coming off of a two-month summer vacation?