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Letter: School Board must offer teachers a fair contract

School Board must offer teachers a fair contract

Larry Quinn’s Feb. 8 Another Voice suggested that we should take a closer look at the contract proposal from the Buffalo Board of Education to its teachers. As a teacher in the district for the past 17 years, a parent of a Buffalo student and a taxpayer, I took him up on his offer. Unfortunately, I found his conclusions to be overly simplified and missing significant relevant data.

First, Buffalo teachers are regionally at the bottom of the pay scale and have not had a raise in 12 years while professional responsibilities have grown significantly. The 10 percent raise seems reasonable, but it is not. It will not bring teachers close to our regional counterparts and health care will negate much of the increase.

Furthermore, school administrators are very well compensated. Their salaries are among the highest in the state and the superintendent, at $275,000 a year, earns more than the commissioner of education and the governor.

Also, the teachers know that they will pay into health care and that the cosmetic rider will be eliminated, but sick bank and workers’ compensation days should remain untouched. Buffalo teachers are frequent victims of assaults while doing their jobs. This is not a proper place to cut financial corners.

Teachers should not pay a percentage of health care cost. The district is self-insured and will inflate overall costs to increase a percentage payment from teachers. A reasonable flat rate is fair.

The survival of public education depends on three basic truths. First, public schools, for all their faults, are the foundation of our communities. Secondly, it is going to take all of us working together to save public education. Lastly, we must attract the best and the brightest to the teaching profession. To accomplish this, we must stop marginalizing and villainizing teachers and provide them with a fair future. These complex problems will not be accomplished by partial truths. This is where Quinn fails.

James Healy