I read Joel Katz's letter suggesting our school district and other affluent ones should not receive any state aid, and all state aid should go to poor districts. I respectfully disagree with Joel, whom I greatly respect. The average NY school district receives about 35 percent of its budget in state aid. Many poor districts receive over 60 percent in state aid. Port gets 6 percent so poor districts in fact already receive 5 to 10 times as much in state aid as we do.
The real problem, as Mr. Katz well knows, is our excessive school spending. This year a new contract must be negotiated with our teachers union. Since our average Port teacher now earns about $90,000 in salary and $30,000 in benefits, I believe, especially in these difficult times, that teacher salaries should be frozen for 2 or 3 years. After that, any increase should be accompanied by asking our teachers to contribute more towards their health insurance costs, which are about $15,000 per year. Today teachers pay 20 percent, and we pay 80 percent . Let's go to an equal 50-50 split between teachers and taxpayers. And it is time our State Senator Johnson and Assemblywoman Schimel change NY's pension system for public employees to a defined contribution system where taxpayers and employees share the costs equally, rather than have taxpayers pay over 90 percent of the costs as we do today. This is what most private companies are now doing. It's time our school board and our legislators give the taxpayers as much consideration as they give public employees.