Staff reductions and program cuts to proceed
By Pamela Doan
When Philipstown voters went to the polls last month and approved the school budget, there was hope on the horizon that a last-minute deal a few days before would save the staff positions and program cuts that were slated for the 2014-15 school year. Those hopes were dashed on Tuesday (June 3) when the Haldane Faculty Association members, a union that represents 81 teachers and six teaching assistants in the district, voted against the terms of the settlement their bargaining team had brought back from months of talks with district representatives.
Interim Superintendent John Chambers explained that there was no guarantee the terms would be accepted and the district had already reduced the positions and programs with the caveat to the affected employees that things could change pending the results of the contract negotiations. Unless something else happens with the contract terms, the positions and programs will not be restored at this point.
At an emotional, standing room only meeting in early May, students, parents and the HFA president all spoke about the impact of the cuts and their hopes that other solutions would be found. This is the first time that the district has had to eliminate jobs in order to balance the budget.
While both parties issued statements about the vote results, no details are forthcoming about the issues that motivated the HFA members to reject the deal or exactly what happens next. In a joint statement about the settlement released a few days before the budget vote last month, Board President Gillian Thorpe and HFA President Leah Horn expressed positive views about the prospects for a new contract leading many to be surprised at this outcome. Certainly the parties will have to meet again and determine how to proceed. The board said it expected to have more information about the status available to the public at the next meeting on June 17.