*Local and frequent speaker at Board of Education meetings Robert Foster emailed this letter to Smithtown Patch discussing his meeting with district administration about the new teacher contract.
In a response to my question to the administration on April 24th concerning the impact the new STA contract will have on the district I was invited by Superintendent Ehmann to meet with Andrew Tobin our Financial Data and Operations Coordinator. During the meeting Mr. Tobin reviewed the spread sheet used to calculate the impact this new contract will have on the district when compared to doing nothing and letting the Taylor Law govern the teacher’s salaries as it has done for the past two years.
The numbers showed that this contract will offer no savings by the end of the third year. This contract has two major components. On the salary side the teachers will get a combination of half steps and annual increases that will save us about $500,000 in the first two years. In the third year, with a full step and annual raise those savings are wiped out because in that year, 2014-15, the salary cost will increase by $1,130,000 over doing nothing. This is a net $630,000 increase in cost over doing nothing.
To balance that cost out the STA is increasing the rate of contribution for medical benefits from 14.5% to 18.5% over the next three years. This is projected to save the district about $620,000 with the biggest saving in the last year. Add it up and these two components product a net cost to the district of $10,000 over three years.
There is one small savings the STA did give the district and that is a shifting of $250,000 from their Benefit Trust. So after two years of this whole contract process resulted is a net gain for the district of $240,000. Not much of a help in balancing the budget is it.
Looking down the road three years to the next contract negation the STA will again have the Taylor Law on their side. Right now over ninety percent of our teachers have less than 18 years of service. What that means to the district is that for the past two years over 90% of the teachers received an annual raise of $3150 due to steps. It also means that if no contract is signed in 2015 about 85% of the teachers will again receive an annual raise based on steps at a rate of $3265 a year. Looking at the steps table reminds me of the classic Space Invaders game where no matter how hard you try you can never hold back the advancing tide covering the screen. You can never win then and we just can’t seem to win anything now.
– Robert Foster