UPDATE: West Genesee teachers agree to freeze pay but Onondaga Road Elementary could close
Fri, 18 Feb 2011 16:14:11 GMT —
The agreement to freeze pay for a year will save the West Genesee School District about $900,000 and 50 to 60 jobs. The president of the teacher's union said the decision was hard for many teachers but he believed it was right.
"As the union president my motivation was to retain jobs. As a teacher a nice piece of this puzzle is we don't have to hit programs as hard as we would have," said John Christian.
Retired teacher Jane Bamerick was proud of her colleagues and glad to hear that class sizes would stay reasonable.
"Everybody's got to give a little in this world and and I think this was wonderful what they did," said Bambrick.
The district is still facing a $5.3 million budget gap, and even with the freeze, 62 employees will likely lose their jobs. The superintendent is also recommending the district look at closing Onondaga Road elementary school in 2012.
"What's going to have the least impact on kids? Cutting all these programs or the possibility of closing a building and placing the students in other elementary schools that are equally as successful as Onondaga Road?" said Superintendent Christopher Brown.
Kristianna Haase moved to Camillus to be near Onondaga Road Elementary which has a smaller enrollment than the other elementary schools in the West Genesee district.
"He could walk to school as he got older, now he'll be bussed to I don't know which school," said Haase "I love the teachers, the principle, they're very hands on there and I'll be very upset if they do that."
The superintendent said he wants to involve parents of current Onondaga Road Elementary students in studying a possible closure.
2:30 p.m. update:
The superintendent of the West Genesee School District tells CNY Central that on top of the salary freeze, he's also asking the district to consider closing Onondaga Road Elementary School.
About 650 teachers have accepted the wage freeze. The district is still working on an agreement with about 150 others.
West Genesee Superintendent Chris Brown says unions representing teachers, assistants, administrators and others have agreed to a pay freeze for the coming school year.
The West Genesee School District is still in negotiations with several other unions. If everyone gets on board, the district expects it will save about $900,000.
The district is facing a $5.6 million dollar budget gap. Brown says that translates to about 40 positions in the district.
Governor Andrew Cuomo's office relased a statement Friday on the governor's behalf commenting on the pay freeze. In the statement, Cuomo said "I commend the administrators and faculty of the West Genesee School District who have taken a voluntary salary freeze. These are the type of tough but smart decisions school districts across New York should be making. West Genesee clearly understands the economic pressures we are facing and other school districts should follow this example."
School budgets have been a big debate since Cuomo unveiled his proposed state budget earlier this month. Click here to read more about the proposed cuts to state aid for schools.