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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Employee Compensation Roundtable: Staff Cuts & School Taxes

The Community Roundtable on employee compensation that was held on Monday, Jan. 11, included lively discussion on a variety of topics. In order to keep the conversation going, we invite readers to post their thoughts on the following question that was presented to participants at the Community Roundtable. Click here to read notes on what was discussed at the Community Roundtable.

Broadalbin-Perth is in the middle of another difficult budget year in which tough decisions must be made. At this time last year, district administrators and the Board of Education informed the public that staff cuts would be likely in order to offset rising costs of operations and reduce the local tax levy. One full-time administrator position and four full-time teaching positions were eliminated at the end of the 2008-09 school year.

This year, B-P is facing the same situation. Employee compensation is by far the largest portion of the district’s budget. Rising costs of health insurance and employee retirement plans combined with the possibility of reduced state aid have forced the district to once again consider staff cuts.

Last year, district leaders heard conflicting messages from different groups in the community. One group said, “Don’t cut programs (i.e., teachers).” Another group said, “Don’t raise taxes.” And yet another group said, “Don’t cut programs OR raise taxes.” However, the unfortunate reality is that we can’t have things both ways: The district can’t maintain existing programs without raising taxes, and it can’t minimize tax levy increases without cutting programs.

In your opinion, what balance should the district seek between saving programs (teachers) and minimizing tax levy increases? How many staff cuts are too many? How high of a tax levy increase is too high? What do you think the community’s response would be to these questions?

Additional Information
  • If the district decided to make instructional staff cuts, each teaching position that was eliminated would save the district approximately $60,000, on average. If the district chose not to replace a retiring teacher, it would save approximately $100,000.
  • If the district did not eliminate any positions, district leaders estimate that the 2010-11 tax levy increase would be approximately 15.5%. The district can reduce the tax levy increase by 1% for every $95,000 it cuts from the budget.
  • Note: Although district leaders are considering non-instructional positions for elimination, and the district anticipates at least two retirements, the average cost savings for eliminating teaching positions was used for the sake of consistency in the chart provided to Roundtable participants (click here and see page 2 of the PDF to view the chart).


  1. I went away from this meeting very informed. More community members need to get involved.

  2. We need to look at all positions not just teachers.

  3. Isn't it time to look at the roles of the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent? Perhaps the role of Assistant Superintendent should be eliminated. Tomlinson has done that job before so make him do both jobs. Give him a bump in salary and make him work harder. I think it should be seriously considered. Other districts do it, why not BP?

  4. I agree more people need to get involved.

    What balance does BP have to seek to save teachers and minimize tax levy? Maybe we need to encourage early retirement to eliminate some of the higher paid salaries (75,000 vs. 40,000)and some are even higher. Ask "all" staff to take a pay freeze (contract or no contract)for one year to help eliminate costs and keep the quality of education at BP. Reevaluate athletic programs and costs ~ keep or eliminate. Do we need a superintendent and an assistant superintendent? Question everything ~ ask everything.

    How many staff cuts are too many? That is hard to answer without knowing all the facts, classroom sizes etc. As of right now it seems the schools are working with the bare minimum?

    How high of a tax levy is to high? Anything over 4-5 percent

    What do I think the communities response will be to these questions? Same as last year! They will point their fingers because they will be angry when they see 15.5% tax levy. And I can't blame them. I don't want to see a 15.5% tax levy either. Most people are struggling right now to pay their nimo bill and put gas in their car so I believe they will react with anger and blame the teachers again.

    Educating the community and trying to keep the lines of communication open and fair is a start.

  5. The fact is we have an 800 lb gorilla on our back with the teacher's union and the laws associated with their salaries and benefits. This is a problem not just this year but for years to come if we do not control it soon. Changes need to be made!! Please contact your governmental officials, state senators, legislatures, etc. to let them know that we can not continue to pay higher school taxes in our community to cover increased staff salaries and benefits and receieve less programs for the children in the district. Program cuts will happen this year again and will happen for years to come unless changes are made with the employee compensation. Contact your public officials.

  6. A union is defined as an organization of workers joined to protect their common interests and improve their working conditions. Based on the chart attached, the District is looking to lay off numerous teachers to lower the taxes. Wouldn't a "common interest" be to keep as many teachers employed as possible? This would in turn meet the mission of the District to continue to provide the best education to the students if more teachers are employed. If they are so tight as a union, why couldn't they come together to see if they could minimize layoffs by having pay freezes or even lower the pay raises they received this year. Based on their current contract (can be seen on it appears to me they range anywhere from about 4.0% to some steps as high as 9.0%. Considering how much compensation and benefits is of the District's budget, freezing and/or reducing these raises could save the District some large amounts of money and teaching positions for that matter. Wouldn't the teachers like to see their colleages employed versus laid off. They should come together as a union to try to make this happen.