This new ad is all about numbers. But before I give my thoughts, I feel it's necessary to supply some important numbers that were left out of the ad...
49% of the school budget is dedicated to just teacher salaries and benefits. That means in the projected 2012-2013 budget, taxpayers will have to pony up almost thirty MILLION dollars before a book is even opened.
The 7 officers of the Port Jervis Teachers' Association earn, on average, a yearly salary of $94,500 per year and 123 teachers earn over $80,000. More than double and triple the local average. This area is very generous with its tax money.
In the ad they mention that the budget will increase by $1,987,815, but they don’t tell you why...
What was not mentioned in the ad: a large portion of that number comes from a 2.2% increase in step pay* and an 11% increase in teacher pension benefits.
Let's take a look at that. For the first ten years of their employment teachers contribute only 3% toward their pension, leaving the taxpayer the burden of paying 97% toward teacher pensions. After ten years, the taxpayer acquires 100% of that burden, while the teachers contribute ZERO.
What does that look like in numbers? Since 2009 the total teacher contribution to their own pension benefit increased by only $15,599. In that same time-frame the total taxpayer contribution toward teacher pension increased by $365,218. That's a three hundred and fifty thousand dollar disparity between teacher contribution and taxpayer contribution in only three years! That doesn't seem fair to me. Generous, but not fair.
They again mention $9,916,096 in reserve funds.
What was not mentioned: $550,000 of reserve funds is set aside for asbestos abatement at the route 209 school and $6,000,000 is in reserve for the, DEC ordered, remediation of petroleum residue from the former bus garage site. That money cannot legally be touched.
Let's take a moment to talk about the bus garage site. The bus garage site was a surprise expense and the total cost of digging is astronomical. Although the district is currently engaged in a process that is less expensive, there is still a concern that the DEC won't be satisfied and the district will have to dig it all up anyway. If the $6,000,000 were not set aside, the school board would have to float an emergency bond. An emergency bond does not require voter approval and, in this instance, is not covered by state building aid. In other words the taxpayers would be on the hook for the entire 6 million plus interest. The Port Jervis Teachers’ Association would spend that money, legally or not, and damn the long term consequences.
They once again mention putting $1,000,000 toward the budget
What was not mentioned in the ad: The 2012-2013 budget already includes a proposal to use $1.15 million dollars of fund balance to offset the tax levy. $1.15 million to reduce the tax levy. The Port Jervis Teachers’ Association would have us use that money to protect salary increases.
Again they mention $300,000 from the sale of property.
I have to ask, how did the Port Jervis Teachers’ Association come up with that number? Who did the appraisal and, more importantly, how old is the appraisal?
As I have said in a previous post, $300,000 is an arbitrary number. It isn’t firm and will fluctuate with the market. We could save $100,000 more than that proposed number, and immediately...
What was not mentioned in the ad was the fact that the district is contractually obligated to pay the teachers over $400,000 in step increases* this year. In the interest of supporting education, they could agree to give this back. Other teachers around the country have done this, why not ours?
In this ad the Port Jervis Teachers’ Association mentions Delaware Valley and Minisink Valley. They failed to mention Minisink Valley laid off almost 55 teachers and staff last year. It’s a false comparison and is irresponsible on their part. Delaware Valley and Minisink Valley are larger school districts both fiscally and in student enrollment. Further the mean income of the residents in those districts is greater than that of the residents of Port Jervis. They are comparing apples to oranges in an attempt to distract from the financial perks that they enjoy at the expense of our generous taxpayers.
Finally, what was not mentioned in this ad, or the other two ads, was how the Port Jervis Teachers’ Association was willing to assist! What is their plan to help? Perhaps with such a large number of our teachers earning double and triple the average local salary, they might, for one or two years, hold off taking a pay raise. Considering how generous the taxpayers have been, is that really too much to ask of them?
The PJTA has a new ad
The Port Jervis Teachers' Association places an Ad
* a salary step is an automatic, incremental pay increase based on years of experience, earned graduate degrees or academic credits. It is given each year, in addition to a cost of living increase, until the top step is achieved. In a basic sense, it is a second pay raise.
[Based on totals I was supplied, I previously stated there was a 1.8 million dollar increase in taxpayer contribution to teacher pension benefits. That number was inaccurate. I have adjusted the paragraph to reflect the correct information.]