Liverpool teachers put greed before freeze

Principals' personal gripes go public

For months I've been hearing teachers and parents in the Liverpool Central School District privately grousing out loud about Superintendent Nick Johns. Last weekend, the private sniping suddenly became public. A letter from the Liverpool Administrators Association-the union representing school principals here-surfaced to spell out the complaints in no uncertain terms: "Our unit members have...experienced a working climate of fear, trepidation and vindictiveness when work done by members is not perceived to meet an unspecified standard," the Feb. 11 letter said.

Who's vindictive?

The missive was issued by the 33 members of the LAA to explain why they refused to cooperate with Johns' suggestion that employees accept a pay freeze to help offset the district's multi-million-dollar budget shortfall. The LAA also griped that Johns has spent money on the development of a "FOCUS Academy" and renovations at the former Wetzel Road Elementary School, which was closed last year.

The LAA refusal to freeze its members' six-figure salaries follows in the muddy footsteps of the United Liverpool Faculty Association which thumbed its nose at the super's cost-cutting suggestion earlier this month. That 2.2 percent wage hike for 2011- 12 is in their contract, darn it, and they want it no matter how bad off everyone else is!

Misleading complaints

What's most disturbing about this turn of events is not just the unions' greed, but the way they're steering the debate. Grumbling about the academy proposal and about asbestos removal at WRE is a classic case of misdirection. The unions don't want people to focus on the real issues that cause our budget blues-soaring salaries, beaucoup benefits and profligate pensions. Three other LCSD unions, Liverpool Association of Middle Managers, Service Employees International Union Local 200 (representing maintenance staff), and Unite Here Local 150 (representing cafeteria workers) have informed Johns that they are willing to take a wage freeze for 2011-12.

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