There is a notion being peddled on social media by a BOE member that the teachers in the Greenwich Public Schools are “demanding a raise” at the expense of their students and colleagues. In fact, teachers do not have the power to “demand raises” and saying that they do is inflammatory and disingenuous. Furthermore, scapegoating teachers for the town’s self-inflicted budget situation and suggesting that they don’t care about their students and colleagues is not only wrong, it is insulting.
Here’s how these things actually work. Last summer the GEA and the Board of Education bargained in good faith on a contract, following a process established by state statute. Collective bargaining is a complex process of give and take. To reach an agreement on salary increases, GEA made concessions to the BOE in other areas.
Ratified on September 19, 2019, the final contract was the culmination of hard work and compromise by both sides.
So, let’s put the situation another way. The teachers deserve the compensation that was agreed to in the contract; the BOE is “demanding the right to renege” even though the Town of Greenwich can afford to fund the BOE budget in full. According to Bob Horton (Greenwich Time, 5/7/2020) the $3 million cut to the BOE budget represents about 5% of the town’s cash reserves. With $60+ million in the bank, the BET’s $3 million cut is a choice, not a necessity, at the expense of students and teachers.
Those who support cuts cite COVID-19. However, COVID-19 is the exact reason NOT to impose cuts at this time. When we return to school in the fall, in whatever form that takes, it is going to take more resources, not less, to keep everyone safe and to mitigate the impact of the extended closing on Greenwich students.
Since mid-March teachers have stepped up in every way possible and are working harder than ever to meet the needs of their students. It has not been perfect, but here in the epicenter of the global pandemic, the collective effort of all BOE employees should be commended. For a BOE member to champion cuts at this time is a slap in the face.
President, Greenwich Education Association