To The Daily Sun,
While living on Long Island, in New York for many years, and now being here in Laconia for 20 years, I continue to be interested in the issues of the Laconia School Board.
In New York, I served on the school board for several years, as president, and then took the position in administration as the business official. I was involved in negotiating all of the district's union contracts. The most difficult and contentious was always the teachers' contract. Their position never changed ... always that other districts paid more, and we were going to lose so many good teachers if we didn't honor their requests. The children would be hurt because the teachers weren't appreciated. No matter what we offered, it was never enough.
We, too, had budget limitations. We, too, had taxpayers that would be stressed to pay those increases. Trying to be fair to all was a challenge, but in not giving in to all the drama, we still never lost any teachers, and the children were fine.
Teachers have some of the best benefits in any workforce. They also have a countrywide, strong union that manages to keep tenure in all the contracts, most without any performance clauses. Most school districts still have "steps" in their contracts, which give rewards for staying on the job. Medical and retirement benefits, even if a contribution is made by the staff, are more generous than most companies can afford. And, they work 180 a year.
Stay strong, City Council. There is no need to override the tax cap. Keep the contracts within the budget. Even if you get money from the state, it is a dangerous trade-off, as salary raises will continue to be demanded, and the state will never keep up.
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