Open Letter to Katonah-Lewsiboro Teachers
We are more than 845 community members who have joined our voices in an independent, grassroots movement to ask that KLSD teachers, staff and administration work collaboratively with the Board of Education to develop a sustainable budget in an environment where KLSD’s revenue is now limited by the tax-cap.
We are supporters of teachers. Contrary to what you might hear, we are not anti-education, anti-teacher or anti-union. We recognize that as teachers, YOU are the main reason why KLSD enjoys an excellent reputation for high-quality education.
We understand that new state mandates around testing, curriculum and teacher assessment may be contributing to a decrease in your job satisfaction. As a community, we want to support your passion for teaching and your creativity in the classroom and would be interested in partnering with you to advocate for positive change at the state and local level.
Last Thursday, we presented the Forward Together KLSD petition to the BOE, Superintendent and representatives from the staff (KLSSA) and administrators’ (KLAAS) union. We also invited KLDTA leadership to attend the meeting so that they could hear firsthand our positive message of collaboration that is over 845 community members strong. It was disappointing that your representatives were the only stakeholders not there – despite the fact that they are regular attendees at BOE meetings.
We believe that the KLDTA leadership’s decision to miss the presentation of the Forward Together KLSD petition provides an example of the disrespect that the union leadership displays for the K-L community. The relationship between KLDTA leadership, the BOE and the KLSD Administration has been dysfunctional and confrontational for years – regardless of who the Superintendent is or who sits on the BOE. The unions representing the staff and administrators of KLSD have been ready to work collaboratively and professionally with the BOE. Examples include the administrator’s union agreeing to salary freezes and the support staff union resolving a six-year impasse during contract negotiations under KLSD’s new superintendent.
We urge KLSD teachers to pay attention and hold their leadership accountable. Make sure they are representing you in a way that is positive, collaborative and professional – and that they are actively working on solutions. If your leadership tells you that our community doesn’t respect teachers, please remember that those are the politics of division. Together, as teachers, staff, students and community members, we are stronger and better able to find solutions to our district’s looming budget crisis.
We also ask you to get informed about the perilous financial situation of KLSD and so many other districts in New York State. With the tax-cap, there is an unavoidable imbalance between state-imposed limits on revenue and contracted expenses that makes it imperative for districts to find creative ways to offer the same high-quality public education.
So many of us in the community have not seen raises or bonuses in recent years (if not suffered loss of income or jobs) and must contribute more and more to our own rising costs of health care and retirement as our employers have faced declining revenue. Now that KLSD is facing reduced revenue, district stakeholders need to work together to preserve the excellence of our district exemplified by small class size, innovative curriculum and high-quality teaching professionals.
As community members, we commit to you that we will endeavor to elect people to the Board of Education who are committed to working collaboratively with teachers to support your profession and find solutions to our structural deficit for the sake of students, employees and taxpayers.
None of us are to blame for the current financial reality, but we are asking you to make sure that your leadership is working collaboratively to find workable solutions for the sake of our entire K-L community. We can’t afford to wait any longer.
We thank you for all that you do for KLSD students – past, present and future.