Teachers’ association states its position on fiscal crisis

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 5, 2010

As many citizens of St. John the Baptist Parish are aware, the school system is faced with a budget deficit for the 2010-2011 school year. As the designated representative for the employees of the system, the St. John Association of Educators seek to clarify its position on the ongoing fiscal crisis and our involvement in those negotiations.

First, the employees of the system did not create this fiscal dilemma. Neither is it just or fair that the employees be forced to bear the burden of correcting it. We were always and remain willing to work diligently with the administration in the process. However, to date, the Administration’s requests have been unreasonable. On different dates the Administration has reported to the Association deficits of various amounts. These deficits have continually changed and have been decreased at each meeting. Further, the Administration has yet to document to the Association’s satisfaction the use of the $12.7 million dollar surplus in the general fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. The Association simply seeks a full and fair accounting of all expenditures of the system before its members are impacted negatively.

The school system has requested that the Association accept pay cuts of 5 percent and 3 percent. The members of the Association overwhelmingly rejected this request, seeking fiscal accountability from the administration. The Administration then requested the members agree to a pay freeze despite a contractually required pay increase. Despite the hardship this would cause our members, they were willing to agree to this freeze if it would prevent job eliminations of 51 employees proposed for layoff. The Administration refused to commit that this pay freeze would result in any significant job savings and specifically stated that “freezing salaries will not prevent reductions in force for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.”

Furthermore, the Association has made specific suggestions for significant cost savings to the system. The Administration rejected every Association proposal. The Association believes that the proposed layoffs violate multiple provisions of the existing contract with the school system in that they have not been properly negotiated with the Association and have not been made on a system wide basis. Again the Association remains willing to assist the Administration, but it will not ignore its obligation to the hardworking employees of the system to hold the Administration accountable for its actions. The-Association will not rubber stamp Administration’s actions that are unfair or unjust as to its employees.

Carolyn Batiste


St. John Association of Educators