LNEA should be applauded for decision on salary hike

\Call the Tune\ by Mike Anthony

\”Call the Tune\” by Mike Anthony

It’s no secret Lindbergh Schools administrators and the Board of Education have been wrestling with the district’s finances the past few years.

The district’s long-range financial plan is an excellent one, but exemplifies the dire situation Lindbergh faces.

That plan calls for a spend down of its $24.6 million in reserves with a deficit-spending cap of $3 million per year. But after making more than $2 million in cuts for the 2009-2010 school year to reach that $3 million deficit target, a further decline in the assessed value of commercial real estate increased the projected budget deficit for the current school year to roughly $5.1 million, not including $64,542 cut by the state last week.

Officials plan to further utilize district reserves to cover the increased deficit, and projections indicate those reserves will drop to roughly $19.5 million at the end of the current school year.

If reserves fall below roughly $13 million, the district would have to borrow money to operate.

To reach that $3 million deficit target for the coming school year, the Board of Education last month approved more than $4.7 million in reductions for the 2010-2011 school year. The board’s action eliminated 60 positions, including 45 teaching positions. Those budget reductions were premised on the possibility of a 2-percent salary increase, but the amount of the pay raise would be determined based on the outcome of negotiations between the Board of Education and Lindbergh National Education Association teachers.

All employees, including administrators, will receive the same pay increase as teachers.

By agreeing to a 1-percent salary increase, LNEA teachers sacrificed taking home more money in exchange for allowing six full-time classroom teaching positions — a total of seven teachers — to be reinstated.

The decision to accept a 1-percent pay hike instead of a 2-percent raise certainly couldn’t have been an easy decision, especially given the fact that most teachers won’t see an increase in their take-home pay because of increased insurance and retirement costs.

LNEA members should be applauded for their decision that resulted in the reinstatement of their fellow teachers, thereby reducing class sizes.

We’re pleased to see a return to the Lindbergh tradition of everyone working together to place the needs of children first.