Mehlville teachers to be applauded for making tough sacrifice

By MIKE ANTHONY

It’s no secret that in recent weeks some have been attempting to exploit the Mehlville School District’s well-publicized financial woes for their own purposes.

We won’t delve into the specifics, but it’s clear that those who have attempted to exploit Mehlville’s financial situation certainly do not have the purest of motives nor are the most ethical creatures on this planet.

Many more, though, realize the gravity of the situation and, instead of pointing fingers or attempting to assign blame, are willing to step up at a time when the school district, Board of Education and Mehlville administration need their support.

That’s why we applaud members of the Mehlville National Education Association who recently voted to accept a pay freeze for the 2008-2009 school year. That certainly couldn’t have been an easy decision, especially given the current economy and rising gasoline prices.

Mehlville NEA President Kay Cappos, who teaches fifth grade at Blades Elementary School, told Board of Education members last week that a majority of members had voted to accept the freeze not out of “satisfaction,” but out of understanding of the district’s financial challenges.

She said at the May 15 board meeting, “That vote was because we understand the financial situation of the district. That vote was because Central Office and the Board of Education have been honest and open with us and the community. That vote was because we feel we can work together to improve things for next year. The vote of acceptance in no way reflects satisfaction with a zero-dollar-increase salary package …”

All teachers have a difficult job, but we can only imagine how difficult it has been for Mehlville teachers in recent years as the district has struggled with tight funds for textbooks and supplies, increasing class sizes and ethically challenged administrators and board members. That’s not to mention the fact that the base salary for Mehlville teachers ranks 21st of the 23 accredited school districts in St. Louis County.

How refreshing it is to see this cooperation between the Mehlville teachers’ union and school-board members, both of whom clearly have the best interests of children at heart.

We can only wish that the same could be said of other local unions, who instead of working with elected officials for the betterment of Mehlville, appear to be hellbent on destroying their elected leaders.