Letter: Lack of detail on contract troubling

Editor, The Spotlight:

I read with interest Marcy Velte’s article, “Union Reach Deals: Teachers, Principal Groups Still Must Ratify Agreements, Savings, Said to Total $2.7 Million” in the May 9, 2012 edition of The Spotlight. I was disappointed that both unions and, more disturbingly, the school district released a press release with self-congratulatory quotations from the union president, district superintendent and board president that cited $2.7 million of “savings” from district budget projections as actual savings, while refusing – even after, apparently, questioning by Ms. Velte – to release any of the specific facts, e.g. at a time with an available labor pool with a surfeit of able and eager unemployed teachers and principals, to what contractual pay increases did our school board agree in this contract, how was the salary scale restructured, how much will teachers and principals contribute to their health insurance, etc. – important information for voters to have been able to consider before going to the polls on May 15 when determining the “need” of voting for a budget of “shared sacrifice” or other fatuous platitude of the moment. I know of no legal responsibility of the school district to have prevented publication of the, most likely, multiyear proposed labor contract and the school district’s legal obligations associated with it.

I expect self-congratulatory bromides (e.g. “We’ve made painful reductions and cuts as we crafted a budget that balanced the expectation of world-class education with the financial needs of our community [Bethlehem Highlights, page 3]) and vague, unsubstantiated assertions (e.g. “We focused our budgeting process on the needs of our students and the expectations of our community, and the result is a proposed spending plan that exceeds the state’s new tax levy ‘cap,’ [Bethlehem Highlights, page 2]) being reported as news to be characteristic of the school district’s newsletter, not the award-winning The Spotlight.

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