Hartford teachers offer giveback to help close budget

A decision by the Hartford Faculty Association has helped the school district close it 2011-2012 budget gap.

The association brought an offer of a temporary salary freeze to Superintendent Thomas Abraham after the membership voted to approve a move expected to save the school district about $60,000.

The concession was not planned and had not been requested by the district, Abraham said.

“It was unexpected but I think they understood . . . they felt they needed to help the school district they really stepped up,” he said. “This is not the usual process, but I’m glad they did it.”

Abraham said the move means those affected will not see a scheduled step increase in pay from the beginning of the next school year in Sept. 2011 until Feb. 2012.

The freeze will help the district retain programs like junior varsity sports and extra curricular activities and stave off a tax levy increase.

Abraham said the budget to budget increase for 2011-2012 is less than 1 percent now moving from last year’s $10,313,959 to $10,331,912 or $17,953.

Under the state budget proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the $1.5 billion in education aid cuts, Hartford stood to lose $742,000 a 13.8 percent cut.

The district faced a budget gap of nearly $1 million but used fund balance to the tune of $674,000 and federal monies tabbed to help school districts avoid cutting jobs. The district was also able to save about $96,000 in health insurance costs, $34,000 in chaperoning costs and eliminate a special education department head to help reduce the budget.

Abraham said he included the faculty association in early budget discussion presenting them with different scenarios relating to state aid and what effects it could have in Hartford.

The members will vault forward into their scheduled step in 2012 but will not recoup the money difference they would have been paid during from the higher pay increment. Abraham said he has involved the faculty association in budget discussions when he presented what he hoped would be a worst case scenario for losses in state education aid. The board approved the salary freeze and adopted the budget Monday night.

The association has 50 members including guidance counselors, school psychologists and teachers.





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