Inequality of pay raises questioned in Mineral Ridge

Inequality of pay raisesquestioned in Mineral Ridge
Due to the recent financial decisions regarding administrative raises, it has become a moral priority for the Mineral Ridge Education Association (MREA) to speak out against the current Weathersfield Board of Education and its questionable use of the taxpayer money, which took place at the Sept. 21 board meeting.
At this meeting, the board of education voted unanimously to give 42.2 percent raises over two years to the administration and the treasurer, Anglea Lewis. A raise was not given to the middle school principal. Of this amount, 25.3 percent over two years went to the treasurer, Lewis. These raises were granted despite the fact that the five-year forecast submitted by Mrs. Lewis on May 19 stated that "a two-percent cost of living increase has been budgeted for all employees in fiscal years 2006, 2007, 2006, and 2009."
The teachers recently negotiated a contract that gave them a $225 signing bonus for the '04/05 school year, 2 percent for '05-06, and 2.25 percent for '06-07. The same raise was granted to all non-certified employees because of a me-too agreement signed between Superintendent Michael Hanshaw and OAPSE President Mary Ann Smith. In addition to this frugal contract, our teachers also accepted a change in their health care benefits that resulted in a $96,000 savings to the school district, while increasing the teachers' co-pays and deductibles.
During the negotiations between the MREA and the board of education, our negotiators were informed by the treasurer and the board's negotiating team that this was the best they could give us, as they wished to remain fiscally responsible to the school district. Our teachers accepted the current contract knowing that a strike would cause excessive hardship for the community, as we were told "there is no more money." However, during this time, Superintendent Hanshaw received a $4,000 raise Aug. 1, 2005, bringing his salary to $72,000, a 5.8 percent increase. This raise was granted during the negotiations with the teachers.
As highly qualified, professional educators, we believe it is time to set the record straight. Over the last 17 years, the teachers of this system have taken 0 percent for seven years in addition to working without a contract for the '04/05 school year. In the past 17 years, we received a total increase of 23 percent in comparison to Mrs. Lewis' 25.3 percent in just two years. We accepted these salary freezes during these times of hardship for our district because, as always, we have put the children and the district first.
Mr. Darnall openly stated at the board meeting that the administrative raises were given as "catch up for the administration's sacrifices" but did not grant the same consideration to the teaching staff -- the same teaching staff that has made the school an effective district in the state of Ohio.
Mr. Darnall, speaking for the board of education, believes that the district now has "a good team leading the helm of this ship" and is worthy of these exorbitant raises. We say, the ship has always been steered by a dedicated and knowledgeable crew -- the teachers.
Newton Falls
X The writer is president of the Mineral Ridge Education Association
Singing that same old song
Does Mr. Bush believe poverty and class only exists in New Orleans? Why doesn't he get the GOP controlled branches of government to increase the minimum wage to help all taxpayers?
Mr. Bush said to rebuild New Orleans will "cost what it costs." Well, since the rich aren't going to pay for this, the budget cuts will fall on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, money to states for education, etc. -- the less fortunate, again.
As the old saying goes, "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer." Some things never change.