Written by Melissa Argueta Friday, 21 May 2010 00:00
During a budget public hearing on May 11, School Board President Colleen Foley announced that the Garden City Board of Education and the adminstrators’ bargaining unit have reached a two-year agreement for a zero percent salary increase for 2010/2011, and a two percent salary increase for 2011/2012.
Among the administrators represented by the bargaining unit are principals, assistant principals, directors, and coordinators. Foley stated there will also be a zero percent increase for administrative positions in the central office or “cabinet staff,” which includes the assistant superintendent of business, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, the assistant superintendent of personnel, administrative assistant of business, transportation supervisor, the assistant transportation supervisor, the director of facilities, informational technology officer, accountant, treasurer, food service director and public information coordinator. Additionally, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Feirsen has agreed to a zero percent increase next year.
“We would like to acknowledge the collaborative effort put forth by our administrative staff and thank them. The board of education remains resolute to its commitment to the strong negotiations with our other bargaining units, resulting in fiscal responsibility and maintaining and developing of educational programs that benefit the children of Garden City,” Foley stated.
After a final budget summary presentation, Dr. Feirsen and the board entertained questions and comments from citizens. One parent wanted to thank the administrative union for offering concessions. She inquired as to what the savings means in dollar terms. Board of Education Treasurer Al Chase responded, “It’s hard to say, because you’d have to assume a certain percentage that we’re not spending…we haven’t spent anything and we haven’t saved anything.”
Foley clarified that there are three different groups that are agreeing to zero percent increases. “One was with our adminstrators’ bargaining unit, one was with what we call our central office staff that are not covered under a union, and one is with our superintendent of schools, who renegotiated a contract and his salary is negotiated yearly,” Foley stated. The parent asked how many years the units are negotiating with teachers unions. The board said they could not comment because that information is part of the negotiations.
One 34-year Garden City resident asked if the majority of the budget-to-budget increase was due to mandated employee benefits and salaries. Chase stated that there are two pension systems, the teacher retirement system, which is for teachers and certificated staff, and the employee retirement system for civil service staff. “Each of those retirement systems are required contribution, which is mandated by the state. We have no say in how much or how little we contribute to it…and those total about $1.9 million. The remaining, approximately $300,000, is due to increases in health insurance premiums,” Chase stated.
The resident said that these large increases are “disturbing” and should be in “the back of someone’s mind during negotiations.” Foley stated that it has been talked about during every budget process that she has been part of for the past nine years. “We have negotiated aggressively towards that end,” Foley said.
Another citizen wanted to thank the board for their “good faith” in announcing salary freezes. “I think that’s a good first step,” he said.
For more information on the 2010-11 school budget, residents can visit www.gardencity.k12.ny.us/.