On Feb. 3, the leadership of United Liverpool Faculty Association, the union representing over 1,000 teachers, teaching assistants, teacher aides and other staff in the Liverpool Central School district, determined that they would not vote on a proposal to open member's contracts and freeze wages for the 2011-2012 school year.
"We need to have fair compensation for what we do because we're professionals," said Pattie Miller, president of ULFA. "I know the community is frustrated, but we also need to respect our own professionalism and to keep our salaries at a place where we're professionally compensated."
Liverpool Central School District Superintendent Richard Johns sent a letter on Jan. 26 to staff members asking their approval of a wage freeze for the 2011-2012 school year in order to balance the district's budget. Johns said the wage freeze could make up for approximately $1.5 million of the $4.5 million budget deficit, thereby saving 30 jobs in the district. Superintendent Johns and the assistant superintendents in the district have already accepted a wage freeze on their salaries for the 2011-2012 school year.
This comes one year after the district made a $11.1 million cut to their budget for the 2010-2011 school year by cutting 130 positions.
"We made some very difficult decisions going forward-we cut out a larger percentage out of budget than any other school district around," said Superintendent Johns. "But we did that quite purposely so we could make those cuts, get our legs under us and move forward and hopefully not have as massive cuts this year."
ULFA's decision to not consider a wage freeze came in the wake of the release of Governor Cuomo's state budget proposal. The governor's proposal includes a $2.85 billion cut in the state's funding of education. These cuts, if passed by the state legislature, could significantly increase Liverpool Central School District's budget deficit for the 2011-2012 school year.