BALD EAGLE TOWNSHIP – The leadership of the Association of Clinton County Educators Wednesday released a statement relative to its recent decision to reject a Keystone Central School District call for a pay freeze.
ACCE president Tom Temple circulated the release to the news media, a follow-up to word on Tuesday that the union was not willing to agree to a district overture to a pay freeze. The statement indicates the union felt it was mislead the last time district teachers agreed to a freeze. And it says the union “pledges to continue to work with the district to look at other options to help reduce costs.”
The complete ACCE statement:
“At this time, the leadership of The Association of Clinton County Educators cannot agree to open a regressive contract that we negotiated and settled in good faith as little as one year ago. In the time since this contract was settled the association has been asked on two occasions to take a pay freeze. In the recent past, the association agreed to and did take a pay freeze to “help out” the financial situation of the district. It was the association’s approach that we would work together to help alleviate what we were told was a dire financial situation. However, the contrary was true. There was no financial need for the members of ACCE to take a pay freeze. In fact, the money saved from the pay freeze was used by the district to bolster the reserve fund, further strengthening an already strong financial position.
“Two years ago, the district received retirement notifications from 27 of our members, marking a pivotal time in which many funds could have been saved through attrition. In response to this opportunity, the action was taken to hire nearly 50 new teachers and create new programs. A move that was noted, at the time, as something the district could not afford. The reserve fund was on a downward trajectory and the solution in place was to spend down the fund balance. During the spend down, three out of five years resulted in zero tax increases, resulting in increased expenses and a decrease in revenue. Here we are, the fund balance has been spent down, as requested, and the employees left behind are being asked to take a 1 – 2 year pay freeze, depending on who is asking.
“Decisions made by past administrators and board members are negatively affecting us all and have placed current employees in a position none of us asked to be put in. Currently teachers are working under an implemented zero-dollar supply budget. Many teachers are using their own money to purchase supplies for their classrooms. It appears this scenario may continue for an additional year. A situation many may not realize, as teachers have tried to work through the ongoing constraints for our students. The Association, in conjunction with PSEA, pledges to continue to work with the district to look at other options to help reduce costs. We look forward to the opportunity to continue communications with the district in the near future.”
The school board had been hopeful the ACCE would have its membership agree to a freeze for the next two years, part of a proposed freeze for all district employees. District teachers are scheduled to receive a 3 percent pay hike as part of the already-existing contract executed in late 2016 between Keystone Central and its teachers.
The district had included the prospective pay freeze as one of a number of options to whittle away at a $7 million deficit in its 2018-19 budget.