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Raises unlikely for Webutuck teachers

WEBUTUCK — Webutuck Board of Education (BOE) members discussed teachers’ salaries during the meeting on Monday, March 12.Board President Dale Culver explained that under the current financial climate there is not much room for negotiations.“We’ve maxed out what we can pay. It’s a new financial world. Fiscally, things need to get in line or else in 10 years the district won’t be here. Educational spending and the acceleration of salaries has gotten to a point where, in rural towns, it’s probably unsustainable,” he said.Frequent school board watchdog Dave Shufelt agreed Culver’s comments were valid, yet wanted to make sure that teachers were being treated fairly.Culver stated that anyone wanting to negotiate their contract is welcome to, that the board will be happy to meet with them, although their options are limited.“Just know that we don’t have much to work with. As state aid continues to decrease there’s no way to give out raises without raising taxes. That’s our only option to bring in more revenue,” he saidCulver also recognized the teachers’ contribution to help alleviate burdens in last year’s budget.“Last year the teachers’ generously gave up their steps. This year any steps will be increasing from last year’s rate,” he said.Moran stressed that there’s not a lot of options for negotiations.“We have zero flexibility,” she said.Shufelt also wanted the board to make sure that it looks into all aspects of the teachers’ contracts, including retirement options and benefits.“We’re visiting every detail in the contracts because of our fiscal reality. The only increases would come from tax increases because the state aid keeps decreasing. It’s not going back up, anyone who reads a newspaper will see that. There’s talk of things getting better, but I haven’t seen much of those changes. Unfortunately, state aid increasing is just not a reality in our current economy,” said Culver.Culver also expressed interest in posting all of the teachers’ salaries and contracts on the school’s website.“It’s the best for transparency. Then there’s no questions, the information is all right there,” he said.“I just want to see the teachers get paid fairly,” concluded Shufelt.The board agreed that it will approach each negotiation fairly although there is not much to be done as raises are not an option at this time.

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