Letter: Teachers Union Should Make Concessions

To the Editor:

I was recently asked to serve on the Finance Committee for the town of Plainfield. I had a front-row seat to how our money was spent, especially at the Plainfield Elementary School. Over the past several years, there has been a fair share of finger-pointing and passionate debate over school spending and declining enrollment. I, too, was not above negative comments when it came to spending and the School Board.

I am writing to tell people that the current School Board is not the problem. It knows how to lower cost; however, it is meeting resistance from the union, the Plainfield Teachers Association. This year, taxpayers will be shown that the budget is only going up $58 over last year’s. If you look line by line at the budget, it will show savings in one place only to be spent in another, mostly due to the union and the contract. This year’s budget will include a two-year contract with a 2 percent pay raise each year for a total of 4 percent. Actually due to the step-and-track pay scale in the contract, the majority of teachers will see an 11 percent pay raise. There will be $117,000 paid out to three retiring teachers. This is a bonus written into the union contract. There will be a $99,000 increase in health-care benefits due to the fact that the School Board does not have the ability to find more affordable health care without the permission of the union.

This contract is not in the best interests of Plainfield and its taxpayers. Due to declining enrollment, the School Board is attempting to recruit children from surrounding towns and lure more people to town with a full-time kindergarten. These are futile attempts to increase the number of students and revenue. If the School Board will not force the teachers union to make concessions, then the taxpayers should.

Eric R. Brann