Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hindsight is 20/20: City's Response to the EASD Decision

Bringing up the rear, City Council objects after 
the EASD cuts 72 teachers' jobs
Posted by: Noel Jones

Douglas B. Brill wrote in an Express Times article on Thursday about how upset City Council members are at the Easton Area School District's decision to cut 72 teaching jobs in the face of a budget crisis. Considering budget workshops and meetings have been going on for over three months now, and concerned residents have been attending the workshops and meetings all along the way, it seems a little Johnny-come-lately or rather, criticism from hindsight.

I did see Councilman Ken Brown at one of the meeting about a month ago, and Mike Fleck joined for the final meeting, but that was it. If anyone else made it, please post a comment here.

Residents have been sitting through hours of meetings (sometimes until past midnight), coming up with ideas for cutting waste and saving
teachers' jobs while avoiding a tax hike on overburdened taxpayers (this sequence of meetings and resident suggestions has been chronicled on this blog--search on "EASD" to read previous articles). It worries me that our municipal bodies seem to see each other as entirely separate entities that are not to be concerned with each other's affairs, when all affairs of the City, County and School Board directly affect the people who elect them.

I hope to see more representatives from the City and County present at the meetings next year, because, believe me, if this year seemed a tough budget process to get through, next year is going to be even tougher--this pension crisis is not going away--it's getting worse. It is not just a School Board problem, it is a huge problem that affects the economy of our entire area. 72 fired teachers means 72 people on unemployment now, 72 regular customers of local businesses, that now have to tighten their wallets. Actually, including technology coordinators and others that lost their jobs, we now have 84 middle-class workers now looking for work, and where are they going to find more teaching jobs? How does this impact our local economy?

And let's not forget that because the administrators and the union refused to agree to a wage freeze, taxpayers will now see a 2.35% increase in their property taxes. Many taxpayers are already unemployed, or have experienced pay cuts. Many are seniors on fixed incomes, who can barely afford their medications.

It's time for everyone to do their research, whether residents or elected officials, and get to know who voted for what, so that we know who to support when School Board elections come around again. The members of this board did not all vote the same--unlike many public meetings in our area, these School Board meetings were engaged in some pretty passionate discourse, and the votes were almost never unison.

Before condemning the entire School Board, everyone owes it to him/herself, and to those that fought hard on the board (without getting paid a dime, I might add), to take stock of who voted how, and the attendance records of all. It's also worth thinking about the stand-off between the administrators (who are not members of the School Board, but sit with them at the meetings, and are often mistaken by the public for School Board members) and the teachers' union that led to these cuts, as well as the deficit of trust that has developed over time, as covered in Christopher Baxter's article in The Morning Call.

Please post your comments on this epic budget battle here...


Anonymous said...

Be a Smarty, vote for Marty!

noel jones said...